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A mechanistic opinion about movement in mammals

Wednesday 30 May 2018, 1.30PM to 3pm

Speaker(s): Dr Samit Chakrabarty, University of Leeds


In my group, we have been exploring the rules of plasticity amongst the pathways that govern motor activity, via the spinal circuits, related to the hands and legs. Our focus is on the modulation of these spinal circuits during a task and when in disease or dysfunctional states like spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy or strokes. We take a mechanical view of the nervous system, exploring the interaction between muscles, neuronal pathways and the environment in both animals and humans, examined by studying the functional outputs from these. We have established the role of co-operation and competition between pathways in short and long temporal scales for effective recovery from injuries influencing motor output, especially during cerebral palsy.

In this talk, I will provide some basic evidence for the ideas above and how we are currently developing tools to identify the pathways active in people during specific tasks – synergies, but observing changes that occur within a period enough for a single synaptic event to influence the output without the involvement of the brain. I will give you some evidence for the change in inputs to the same muscles during different but almost identical tasks, suggesting tools that could be useful to allow both clinicians and engineers to develop calibration measures for individual patient. In other words, help stratify the population and diagnosis to know their current state of plasticity, allowing better therapeutics.

The wishful thinking here is that it is likely to also aid in defining tools that are more effective in carrying out faster recovery from perturbation or adjusting to the demand.


Dr Samit Chakrabarty is a spinal neurophysiologist; with years of experience of in-vivo recordings from the spinal cord and brain in animal models of neurological disorders. We test rehabilitation and pharmaceutical interventions on these pathways during development and after injuries. This has led to development of new devices with Drs Russell and Steenson (Leeds) to improve ability to record and stimulate on or within the nervous system.

We have also been working to translate these findings to human population, leading to us identify and use tools and measures to gain access to this information using non-invasive methods. We have used mathematical tools, commonly used by engineers and physicists to start to explore the pathways in normal subjects. To improve the outcomes and answer some of the concerns better, we are also developing mathematical models based on the locomotor central pattern generator with Dr de Kamps (Leeds, computing).

Dr Chakrabarty has focused on cerebral palsy and spinal cord injury primarily amongst the animal models of choice and collaborates with Dr R Ichiyama (Leeds), Prof J H Martin (CCNY, CUNY, NYC), Dr Kevin Power (Memorial University, Canada), clinicians Drs P Raghavan (NYU, NYC) and Mark Baker (Newcastle), George Tharion and Raji Thomas (CMC, Vellore, India).

Dr Chakrabarty also collaborates with teams in University of Leeds, Technical University of Munich, for use of the human data towards developing adaptive robotics and prosthetics to assist with restoration of voluntary control.





Location: PL002


Telephone: 4485

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