Session: 5

PS5-13 | Involvement of the mecensephalic locomotor region in motor learning

Leonardo Molano Ramirez

Centro Atomico Bariloche

Mammals have the ability to generate an infinite variety of motor behaviors, from simple actions such as walking to highly complex movements like object manipulation or speech. Some motor patterns are present at birth while new motor skills can be acquired through training and experience. Communication among numerous brain areas is needed to ensure accurate acquisition and execution of motor programs. However, the classical model for motor learning proposes that only a subset of structures along the motor command pathway within forebrain and cerebellum are subjected to activity-dependent adjustments and become reorganized during acquisition of a new skill. In contrast, downstream motor regions located in the brainstem are considered to be simple executive centers for stereotyped motor behaviors. In this study, we challenged this model by testing the role of the mesencephalic locomotor region (MLR) in learning the accelerating rotarod task. In this task, mice learn new motor strategies to stay in a rod that is rotating at increasing speed. Here we show that inhibiting protein synthesis in the MLR shortly after training during the early phase of motor learning affects the improvement in motor performance whereas the same treatment in expert animals has no effect. In conclusion, our preliminary data supports the role of MLR in the consolidation process of a new motor skill.