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Spinal Cord Research

Spinal neuronal circuitry in motor control

The research projects of Jankowska and Hammar concern the organization of spinal interneurones and how they contribute to both reflexes and voluntary movements. We have in particular analyzed neuronal circuits of premotor interneurones integrating reflex actions with centrally initiated movements. Our recent studies focus on neuronal networks mediating ipsilateral actions of corticospinal, rubrospinal and reticulospinal neurones which might be used to replace the dominating crossed actions of these neurones when they are lost as a result of stroke and other central injuries. We are currently also investigating the feedback information provided by spinal interneurones to the cerebellum in order to correct any errors that may have occurred in motor behaviour but also the role played by these interneurones to modulate the descending commands in order to prevent new errors from being made.

The research group uses a number of experimental approaches including electrophysiological techniques combined with morphological studies of functionally identified neurones and immunohistological analysis of their transmitter phenotypes and of types of neurones that form synaptic contacts with them.

These studies are supported by the Swedish Research Council (Vetetenskapsrådet) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH; USA).

These studies have been carried out in collaboration with Prof. D. Maxwell (Dept. of Neuroscience and Molecular Pharmacology, University of Glasgow, UK), Dr. S. Edgley (Dept. of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, UK), Prof Piotr Krutki (Department of Neurobiology, University School of Physical Education Poznan) and a number of visiting researchers. The most recent projects are also in collaboration with Dr. H. Jörntell (Dept of Neurophysiology, Lund University).

Reorganization of central nervous circuitry in chronic pain

For many pathological conditions such as arthritis the direct cause and time course of the development of chronic pain is only partially understood or even unknown, limiting the possibility to alleviate or prevent the development of chronic pain conditions. The research project of Hammar and co-workers aims to investigate changes in the neuronal activity of dorsal root ganglia, the spinal cord and the dorsal and ventral portions of the hippocampus, using electrophysiology and imaging techniques.

These studies are carried out in collaboration with Prof. B. Gustafsson (Department of Physiology), Prof. R. Johnson (Gainsville University, Florida, USA), Dr C. Lindholm (Department of Rheumathology, Sahlgrenska Universitetssjukhuset) and Dr H. Olausson (Clinical Neurophysiology, Sahlgrenska Universitetssjukhuset).


Pettersson undersöker mekanismer för rehabilitering av voluntär motorik efter partiella ryggmärgsskador på cervical nivå. Återhämtning av gripmotorik detaljstuderas med höghastighetsvideo och bansystem som tar över de skadade systemens funktioner kartläggs. Vidare undersöks kontrollen av räckrörelser (”reaching”) dvs att sträcka ut armen för att t.ex ta upp ett föremål. Med rörelseanalyssystem undersöks armens kinematik och den tidsmässiga kopplingen mellan arm- och ögonrörelser. Aktiviteten i enskilda muskler och nervceller registeras parallellt och relateras till rörelsemönstret.


Elzbieta Jankowska, Professor, PhD
E-mail: elzbieta.jankowska@physiol.gu.se
Tel.: +46 31-786 3508

Lars-Gunnar Pettersson, Docent, PhD, MSc (Medicine)
E-mail: lg.pettersson@physiol.gu.se
Tel.: +46 31-786 3507

Ingela Hammar, Docent, PhD, MD
E-mail: ingela.hammar@physiol.gu.se
Tel.: +46 31-786 3421

Jytte Grännsjö, Biomedical scientist
E-mail: jytte.grannsjo@physiol.gu.se
Tel.: +46 31-786 3722

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