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Karolinska Institutet
Stockholm Nobel Institute for Neurophysiology
Department Neuroscience

17177 - Stockholm

+46 8-517 747 74
+46 8-30 80 99

Job opportunities

Prof Sten Grillner
The intrinsic function of the neuronal networks underlying steering, locomotion and posture - from ion channels to motor behaviour
The European Neuroscience Institute at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm

Research Area

Our main aim is to understand the cellular bases of motor behaviour with a focus on the mechanisms underlying selection of behaviour and the neural bases of in particular locomotion and posture. This in turn requires a detailed knowledge of which nerve cells take part, how they talk to each other through synaptic interaction and an understanding of the intrinsic function of these networks. The properties of the nerve cells within the network can vary greatly and are determined by the palette of ion channels expressed and also other gene products. Essentially our research extends from ion channels and synapses to network mechanisms and behaviour utilizing a multitude of techniques from patch clamp and cellular imaging to modelling and studies of behaviour. We utilize preferentially the lamprey as model organism but also mammalian models for the studies of posture.

We have been able to successfully model, based on detailed cellular knowledge, the networks responsible for the command and pattern generating systems for locomotion including steering and posture. Our work continues with several foci including the role of the basal ganglia for selection of different patterns of motor behaviour, tectum for steering and eye motor coordination, the physiological role of different modulator systems acting through the spinal networks, and different ion channel subtypes contributing to neuronal function. With regard to posture the role of vestibular and visual input as well as sensory feed-back from the body is analysed in lamprey and mammals including the vestibulo- and reticulospinal interphase between the brainstem and spinal cord.

The projects are supported by The Swedish Research Council (M and NT), EU, Wallenberg Foundations, Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.


Silberberg, G., Grillner, S., Lebeau, F. E., Maex, R. & Markram, H.(2005):Synaptic Pathways in neural microcircuits..Trends Neuosci 28:541 - 51

Technical Expertise