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John Rothwell

Institute of Neurology

Motor physiology in humans

Our main interest is in devising new techniques to study the physiology of the human motor system in intact, awake volunteers. Our interest is fuelled by the need to use non-invasive techniques to examine pathological changes in neurological disease, not only for the purposes of identifying pathology but also of charting the compensatory changes that occur in parts of the system unaffected by the disease process. The work extends from the study of spinal or brainstem reflex systems to basal ganglia and cerebral cortex.


"Role of reticulospinal systems in human movement"

There are two main sets of pathways through which the brain controls the muscles. They are the corticospinal tract and the reticulospinal systems. In humans they are of approximately equal size, yet the vast majority of study has been devoted to the large diameter component of the corticospinal system, which represents about 1% of the total. This is a project to investigate the role of the reticulospinal pathways in voluntary movements, in the expression of emotion through movement and the possible role of these pathways in recovery from stroke.


Harmer, C.J., Thilo, K.V., Rothwell, J.C. & Goodwin, G.M. (2001)
Transcranial magnetic stimulation of medial-frontal cortex impairs the processing of angry facial expressions.
Nature Neuroscience 4, 17-18.

Valls Sole, J., Rothwell, J.C., Goulart, F., Cossu, G. & Munoz, E. (1999)
Patterned ballistic movements triggered by a startle in healthy humans.
J.Physiol.Lond. 516, 931-938

Hamdy, S., Rothwell, J.C., Aziz, Q., Singh, K.D. & Thompson, D.G. (1998)
Long-term reorganization of human motor cortex driven by short-term sensory stimulation.
Nat.Neurosci 1 , 64-68. 


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