Spinal reflexive movement follows general tau theory

Mehrdad Bahadori, Paola Cesari, Cathy Craig, Mehran Emadi Andani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Background: Tau theory explains how both intrinsically and perceptually guided movements are controlled by the brain. According to general tau theory, voluntary, self-paced human movements are controlled by coupling the tau of the movement (i.e., the rate of closure of the movement gap at its current closure rate) onto an intrinsically generated tau-guide (Lee in Ecol Psychol 10:221-250, 1998). To date there are no studies that have looked at involuntary movements, which are directly guided by innate patterns of neural energy generated at the level of the spinal cord or brain, and that can be explained by general tau theory. This study examines the guidance of an involuntary movement generated by the Patellar reflex in presence of a minimized gravitational field. 
Results: The results showed that the Patellar reflexive movement is strongly coupled to an intrinsic tau-guide particularly when the limb is not moving in the direction of gravity. 
Conclusions: These results suggest that the same principles of control underpin both voluntary and involuntary movements irrespective of whether they are generated in the brain or the spinal cord. Secondly, given that movements like the patellar reflex are visible from infancy, one might conclude that tau-guidance is an innate form of motor control, or neural blueprint, that has evolved over time.
Original languageEnglish
Article number23
Number of pages7
JournalBMC Neuroscience
Issue number1
Early online date1 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished online - 1 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Gravitational field
  • Involuntary movements
  • Movement planning
  • Patellar reflex
  • Tau theory
  • Cognition and Behavior
  • Research Article
  • Humans
  • Reflex, Monosynaptic/physiology
  • Male
  • Spinal Cord/physiology
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Models, Neurological
  • Movement/physiology


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