The Transition from Development to Motor Control Function in the Corticospinal System

Zhuo Meng, Qun Li, John H. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


During early postnatal development, corticospinal (CS) system stimulation, electrical or transcranial magnetic, is minimally effective in producing muscle contraction, despite having axon terminals that excite spinal neurons. Later, after stimulation becomes more effective, the cortical motor representation develops, and movements the system controls in maturity are expressed. We determined whether development of temporal facilitation (response enhancement produced by the second of a pair of pyramidal tract stimuli, or a higher stimulus multiple of a train of stimuli) correlated with these changes. Facilitation of the monosynaptic CS response was larger in older kittens and adults than younger kittens. When facilitation was strong, strong motor responses were evoked by pyramidal stimulation with small currents and few pulses. With strong facilitation in older kittens, corticospinal axon varicosities colocalize synaptophysin like adults, suggesting a presynaptic mechanism. With effective facilitation, control signals from the cortex can be sufficiently effective to provoke muscle contraction for guiding movements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605-614
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 21 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Cat
  • Corticospinal system
  • Development
  • Motor cortex
  • Postnatal
  • Postnatal cord
  • Spinal
  • Spinal cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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