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Professor Richard Apps

Cerebellar contributions to movement control

The overall aim of my research is to understand the contributions the mammalian cerebellum makes to the control of voluntary limb movements.

The cerebellum is the largest motor structure within the brain and to succeed in this aim would substantially increase knowledge of the way in which movements are controlled, as well as shed light on the functional organization of a major neural structure and the pathways linking it to other parts of the nervous system.

In particular, the climbing fibre pathways connecting the inferior olive (a brainstem nucleus) to the cerebellum play a vital but enigmatic role in the regulation of movements. In the short to medium term a key aim of my work is to test and refine the hypothesis that these connections provide 'error signals' to the cerebellum during performance of both new and well-rehearsed movements.

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Research keywords

  • Inferior olive
  • climbing fibre
  • motor control
  • cerebellar Purkinje cells

Diseases related to this field of research

  • Cerebellar ataxias
  • olivocerebellar atrophy
  • spinocerebellar ataxia

Processes and functions relevant to this work

  • Locomotion
  • reaching
  • cognition
  • defensive behaviours

Equipment relevant to this work

  • Fluorescence microscope and image analysis
  • electrophysiological rig
  • behavioural research apparatus

Research findings

  • Cerebro-ponto-cerebellar connections
  • Discovery of novel Cerebro-cerebellar connections Read more >
  • Role of the lateral cerebellum in visuomotor control
  • Gating of transmission in olivocerebellar pathways
  • We have demonstrated that cerebellar purkinje cells can generate an internal model of a moving external object Read more >
  • The role of the PAG in regulating motor activity in conditions such as chronic pain Read more >

Collaborations

  • Professor Bridget Lumb (Bristol)
  • Professor Iain Gilchrist (Bristol) Professor Zafar Bashir (Bristol) Dr John Brooks (Bristol) Professor Izumi Sugihara (Tokyo) Professor Jan Voogd and Dr Tom Ruigrok (Rotterdam)
  • Professor Eric Lang (New York)