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The Spinal Cord, Not to Be Forgotten: the Final Common Path for Development, Training and Recovery of Motor Function

Authors
  • Brumley, Michele R.
  • Strain, Misty M.
  • Devine, Nancy
  • Bozeman, Aimee L.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Perspectives on Behavior Science
Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Publication Date
Nov 13, 2018
Volume
41
Issue
2
Pages
369–393
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s40614-018-00177-9
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Research on learning, memory, and neural plasticity has long focused on the brain. However, the spinal cord also exhibits these phenomena to a remarkable degree. Following a spinal cord injury, the isolated spinal cord in vivo can adapt to the environment and benefit from training. The amount of plasticity or recovery of function following a spinal injury often depends on the age at which the injury occurs. In this overview, we discuss learning in the spinal cord, including associative conditioning, neural mechanisms, development, and applications to clinical populations. We take an integrated approach to the spinal cord, one that combines basic and experimental information about experience-dependent learning in animal models to clinical treatment of spinal cord injuries in humans. From such an approach, an important goal is to better inform therapeutic treatments for individuals with spinal cord injuries, as well as develop a more accurate and complete account of spinal cord and behavioral functioning.

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