Effect of Pairing Red Nucleus and Motor Thalamic Lesions on Reaching Toward Moving Targets in Cats

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Abstract

The small effects of bilateral lesions of motor thalamus on motor control and the transient deficits induced by bilateral kainic red nucleus (RN) lesions have been explained by a parallel competitive role of the cortico- and rubro-spinal pathways: Either pathway can take over motor control if the other is damaged. In this study the effect of bilateral and simultaneous lesions of both RN and motor thalamus was analyzed on cats overtrained to reach toward a moving target. After lesion, accuracy was impaired, movement onset was delayed, and movement execution was perturbed. However, postoperative retraining led to full recovery of the preoperative accuracy level although movement latency remained higher. The relative mildness of the long-lasting deficit after lesioning 2 main motor brain structures underlines the robustness of overlearned movements and widens the idea of parallelism in the motor system to other (subcortical?) pathways.

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