Hidden deep in the brain, a map that guides animals' movements


New research has revealed that deep in the brain, in a structure called striatum, all possible movements that an animal can do are represented in a map of neural activity. If we think of neural activity as the coordinates of this map, then similar movements have similar coordinates, being represented closer in the map, while actions that are more different have more distant coordinates and are further away.

The study, led by researchers at Columbia University and the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, was published today in Neuron.

"From the ears to the toes and everything in between, every move the body makes is determined by a unique pattern of brain-cell activity, but until now, and using the map analogy, we only had some pieces of information, like single/isolated latitudes and longitudes but not an actual map. This study was like looking at this map for the first time." said Rui Costa, DVM, PhD, a neuroscientist and a princip