HOW DO WE MOVE OUR MUSCLES WITH CONSCIOUS THOUGHTS?



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You wake up, get out of bed, and turn on the kettle. You have activated different muscles of the body just to get out of bed and turn on the kettle. It is all conscious activation of muscles, though it might appear to be automated. When water boils, you grab a cup and make coffee. This is all conscious work in response to boiling of water. Here is a simplified map of the human brain to show you the main areas involved in activating muscles.

Different areas of the brain are involved in forming motor commands descending to the spinal cord (ignore above the neck muscles for now): cerebellum, basal ganglia (striatum and globus pallidus—-in teal blue colour in the figure), and areas in front the primary motor cortex (also known as area 4). Visual areas are involved if you are reacting to a visual image; auditory areas are involved if you are reacting to a sound; somatosensory cortex is involved if you are making a movement as a result of touching something, and so on.
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Once an appropriate motor command is formed by various area, it activates appropriate neurons in the primary motor cortex. From there, the command is passed down, along corticospinal axons, to relevant motoneurons in the spinal cord. The excited motoneurons in turn activate the required muscles in an appropriate spatio-temporal fashion. Evolution and execution of a smooth movement is accompanied by constant feed back from the muscles back to the brain such that there is moment to moment correction of the ongoing movement.

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