Neural Basis of Movement

A boy with his foot near the fire illustrating Descartes' withdrawal reflex.

Descartes' concept of the withdrawal reflex. (René Descartes. L'Homme de Rene Descartes. Paris: Charles Angot, 1664. Courtesy of the French National Ministry of Education.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Spring 2003



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Course Description

Course Features

Course Highlights

This undergraduate course is an introduction to the field of motor control and motor learning. The extensive reading list is designed to thoroughly ground the students in the classical beginnings of the field and then lead them to the forefront of research. The related resources allow the students to explore in greater depth specific topics not covered in the class.

Course Description

Surveys general principles and specific examples of motor control in biological systems. Emphasizes the neural mechanisms underlying different aspects of movement and movement planning. Covers sensory reception, reflex arcs, spinal cord organization, pattern generators, muscle function, locomotion, eye movement, and cognitive aspects of motor control. Functions of central motor structures including cerebellum, basal ganglia, and cerebral cortex considered. Cortical plasticity, motor learning and computational approaches to motor control, and motor disorders are discussed.

Related Content

Chris Moore, Emilio Bizzi, Mriganka Sur, Peter Schiller, and Ann Graybiel. 9.05 Neural Basis of Movement. Spring 2003. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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