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Motor Neurons

  • Published22 Apr 2016
  • Reviewed22 Apr 2016
  • Author Michael W. Richardson
  • Source BrainFacts/SfN

Fallini, et al. The Journal of Neuroscience, 2016.

Snap your fingers or wiggle your toes. Those quick movements result from a sequence of electrical signals that begin in your brain. Specialized cells called motor neurons (above) carry instructions from the brain along long cables (axons) that stretch from your spinal cord to the muscles in your hands and feet. In diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy, motor neuron axons become damaged and degenerate, which means signals from the brain never reach the muscles and movement becomes impaired. Researchers are studying what causes this degeneration in order to find potential treatments for this and other motor neuron diseases.

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