Optogenetics and Propriospinal relays

We are examining how walking can be initiated by propriospinal neurons that relay commands from the brain around an injury site to neurons below the spinal cord injury. We employ genetically manipulated mice that have light sensitive ChR2 receptors added, so that we can activate these neurons with light. We find that no only do these neurons initiate walking, but they also inhibit muscles spasms, making them a prime target for clinical treatments.  This work is in collaboration with Dr. Karim Fouad's lab.