Motor systems (neuroscience)
Fetz, Eberhard E. Department of Physiology and Biophysics, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
Last reviewed:December 2019
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- Skeletal muscle
- Skeletal muscle contraction
- Motor units
- Components of the skeletal motor system
- Segmental circuits
- Basal ganglia
- Cerebral cortex
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The portions of nervous systems that regulate and control the contractile activity of muscles and the secretory activity of glands. The motor systems of the body are highly complex networks responsible for muscular movements and gland secretions. Muscles and glands are the two types of organs by which an organism reacts to its environment; together, they constitute the machinery of behavior. Cardiac muscle and some smooth muscle and glandular structures can function independently of the nervous system, but in a poorly coordinated fashion. Skeletal muscle activity, however, is entirely dependent on neural control (Fig. 1). Destruction of the nerves supplying skeletal muscles results in paralysis, or inability to move. The somatic motor system includes those regions of the central nervous system involved in controlling the contraction of skeletal muscles in a manner appropriate to environmental conditions and internal states. Key areas of motor-system research are skeletal muscle innervation and contraction; the motor unit; and the neural centers for motor control, particularly those located in the cerebral cortex. See also: Central nervous system; Gland; Muscle; Muscular system; Nervous system (vertebrate); Neurobiology
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