Every movement we make — from walking and writing to blinking and talking — requires intricate communication between the brain and our muscles. Our sensory systems guide this communication by providing information about the external environment and then work with the motor system to plan movements and to control the actions that muscles make. Scientists are using new imaging, molecular, and cellular tools to explore the complex interactions between brain regions and systems every time a movement is planned.
Ongoing studies are helping researchers map how brain regions work together to control movement and how dysfunction in these regions contributes to movement disorders, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Researchers continue to study why the nerve cells that control planned movements begin to break down in people with ALS. These studies could one day lead to new treatments and physical therapy options for people with movement disorders, or those whose movement has been compromised by stroke or injury.