The Martin laboratory studies movement from the dual perspectives of development and recovery of motor function after brain or spinal injury, using animal models. Our studies focus on the corticospinal tract (CST), the principal pathway for skilled movements in humans and many animals. Our developmental studies examine formation of CST connections during the early postnatal period and the emergence of skilled motor behavior. Our motor recovery studies focus on repair of damaged corticospinal motor circuits in mature animals. We apply what we have learned about development of the corticospinal system to promote new connections between the brain and spinal motor circuits in adult animals after injury.
An overall scientific goal of the laboratory’s research program is to learn how new corticospinal motor circuits, either those forming during normal development or as a consequence of brain stimulation after injury, become connected into the motor systems. In other words, how motor circuits come “on-line” and how the new circuits can be used by the developing or injured brain for controlling movement. The overall clinical goal of our studies is to translate what we have learned about movement at the neural circuit level to devise novel biological approaches for rehabilitation.