V. Reggie Edgerton, Ph.D.,
University of California Los Angeles, CA
The Edgerton lab is focused on the role that activity-dependent processes have in defining the functional characteristics of sensorimotor circuits that generate posture and locomotion and fine motor skills.
There are three general objectives of this laboratory that are represented within the Reeve Foundation International Research Consortium on Spinal Cord Injury. The first objective is to conduct a series of experiments related to the mechanisms of learning a motor skill by the circuitry of the spinal cord. In adult complete spinal rats we will test a hypothesis related to the importance of an active control algorithm of the robotic arms ("a window" effect) compared to no training in the generation and learning of stepping under the influence of quipazine, a 5HT2a agonist. We will approach this problem using state-of-the-art robotics hardware that we have developed and use software strategies that are continuing to be developed in my laboratory. In another experiment we will test the hypothesis that the synthesis of new proteins is needed within the lumbosacral spinal cord when a motor skill such as stepping is practiced in spinal rats as is in the hippocampus learning in rats. We will determine whether learning to step by spinal rats can be blocked with a protein inhibitor.
A second objective is to continue to develop quantitative techniques for assessment of motor performances in animals ranging from mice to nonhuman primates and in activities ranging from fine motor skills to standing and posture. Within this one general objective we have outlined two specific tasks. The first task is to further develop and maintain a Physiological-Behavioral Core that can be available for any members of the CRF International Research Consortium. We will continue to further develop state-of-the-art quantitative assessments of motor performance motor performance assays that can be translated to other laboratories as readily as possible. As these assays are developed they will immediately be available to all Consortium investigators. The second task is to develop the methodology, hardware, and software for a behavioral task that enables a non-human primate to practice and to test the level of skill in performing a fine motor task with the hand. This will be done in collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Schwab.