Sten Grillner, "The Brain in Motion: From Microcircuits to Global Brain Function" (MIT Press, 2023)

The MIT Press Podcast

23-02-2024 • 1 hora 22 min

C. S. Sherrington said “All the brain can do is to move things". The Brain in Motion: From Microcircuits to Global Brain Function (MIT Press, 2023) shows how much the brain can do "just" by moving things. It gives an amazing overview of the large variety of motor behaviors and the cellular basis of them. It reveals how motor circuits provide the underlying mechanism not just for walking or jumping, but also for breath or chewing. The book emphasizes the evolutionary perspective. It demonstrates how the basic structures are the same across all vertebrates, suggesting that these systems have been around for more than 500 million years. At the very beginning, Grillner introduces the analogy of an orchestra: The microcircuits are the musicians, and the forebrain acts as the conductor. In the following chapters, the readers get to know all the important actors and their contribution to this "performance": the CPGs and motor centers that execute the movements, the tectum that synthesizes input from the direct surroundings of the animal, the basal ganglia and the cortex that together direct the microcircuits, and the cerebellum, which plays a crucial role in adapting the movements according to the environment and learning new motor behavior. The Brain in Motion provides both a great overview of the motor system and a detailed presentation of its major contributors.