Locomotor activity in many species undergoes pronounced alterations in early postnatal life, and environmental cues may be responsible for modifying this process. To determine how these events are reflected in the nervous system, we studied rats reared under two different conditions - the presence or absence of gravity - in which the performance of motor operations differed. We found a significant effect of rearing environment on the size and complexity of dendritic architecture of spinal motor neurons, particularly those that are likely to participate in postural control. These results provide evidence that neurons subserving motor function undergo activity-dependent maturation in early postnatal life in a manner analogous to sensory systems.
ASJC Scopus subject areas