Corticospinal populations broadcast complex motor signals to coordinated spinal and striatal circuits

Anders Nelson, Brenda Abdelmesih, Rui M. Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many models of motor control emphasize the role of sensorimotor cortex in movement, principally through the projections that corticospinal neurons (CSNs) make to the spinal cord. Additionally, CSNs possess expansive supraspinal axon collaterals, the functional organization of which is largely unknown. Using anatomical and electrophysiological circuit-mapping techniques in the mouse, we reveal dorsolateral striatum as the preeminent target of CSN collateral innervation. We found that this innervation is biased so that CSNs targeting different striatal pathways show biased targeting of spinal cord circuits. Contrary to more conventional perspectives, CSNs encode not only individual movements, but also information related to the onset and offset of motor sequences. Furthermore, similar activity patterns are broadcast by CSN populations targeting different striatal circuits. Our results reveal a logic of coordinated connectivity between forebrain and spinal circuits, where separate CSN modules broadcast similarly complex information to downstream circuits, suggesting that differences in postsynaptic connectivity dictate motor specificity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1721-1732
Number of pages12
JournalNature Neuroscience
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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