BOB HIRSHON (host):
An anti-tripping brain circuit. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
If you stumble on an irregular bit of pavement, chances are you immediately and almost miraculously right yourself. In the journal Cell Reports, researchers at the Zuckerman Institute at Columbia University claim they’ve found the brain circuit responsible for this amazing balancing act. It’s called the Lateral Vestibular Nucleus, or LVN, and researcher Thomas Jessel explains that it tenses the legs’ flexing and extending muscles at the same time.
THOMAS JESSEL (Zuckerman Institute at Columbia University):
What happens is you trigger a co-activation which provides stiffness in the muscle joints, which then keeps you on your toes, if you like.
Inactivating this brain circuit in mice eliminates their ability to avoid these falls. The work could lead to new therapies to keep older people and others who are prone to stumbling on their feet. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.