The Spinal Neuromotor Laboratory seeks to better understand how the spinal cord controls movement. To accomplish this, we use a wide variety of approaches and models to better understand the activity of the central nervous system. One of the main approaches we use is to record the electrical activity of skeletal muscle and decompose this information into the discharge of several dozens of individual spinal motoneurons. Recent technological advances have allowed us to record these detailed neuronal firing patterns noninvasively in humans using high-density surface electrode arrays.
This approach has opened up several new avenues of research: Not only can we record from a large number of neurons, but we are now able to perform these detailed analyses in a wider range of subjects, including children, and in more relevant environments, including in the home or hospital setting. This state-of-the-art human work is paralleled by animal investigations in which we are able to perform more invasive recordings, such as recording the discharge of spinal interneuron populations using intraspinal microelectrode arrays. Our work is highly collaborative and we have active projects with our local, national and international colleagues. The new knowledge we produce regarding the spinal control of movement is focused on developing life-changing therapies for individuals with disorders of the peripheral or central nervous system.