Modular organization of spinal motor systems

E. Bizzi*, A. D'Avella, P. Saltiel, M. Tresch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


The vertebrate nervous system produces a wide range of movement flexibly and efficiently, even though the simplest of these movements is potentially highly complex. The strategies by which the nervous system overcomes these complexities have therefore been of interest to motor physiologists for decades. In this review, the authors present a number of recent experiments that propose one strategy by which the nervous system might simplify the production of movement. These experiments suggest that spinal motor systems are organized in terms of a small number of distinct motor responses, or "modules." These distinct modules can be combined together simply to produce a wide range of different movements. Such a modular organization of spinal motor systems can potentially allow the nervous system to produce a wide range of natural behaviors in a simple and flexible manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-442
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2002


  • Motor primitives
  • Spinal force fields
  • Spinal interneurons
  • Spinal motor systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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