The spinal cord runs down the length of the spine. It is a large and important part of the central nervous system. In humans, its neural circuits govern the pain reflex. In animals, the spinal cord controls simple motor functions.
Western University researchers reported that the spinal cord handles higher motor functions as well. For example, it controls the positioning of the hand in a space – a simple task that is more complicated than it sounds.
"This research has shown that a least one important function is being done at the level of the spinal cord and it opens up a whole new area of investigation to say, 'what else is done at the spinal level and what else have we potentially missed in this domain?'" asked Western researcher Dr. Andrew Pruszynski.