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Upper Motor Neuron vs. Lower Motor Neuron: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on February 23, 2024
Upper Motor Neurons (UMNs) are nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control movement; Lower Motor Neurons (LMNs) are nerves connecting the spinal cord to muscles for movement execution.
Upper Motor Neuron vs. Lower Motor Neuron

Key Differences

Upper Motor Neurons (UMNs) are nerve cells in the central nervous system that control the lower motor neurons in the peripheral nervous system. They originate in the brain and send signals down the spinal cord. Lower Motor Neurons (LMNs) are the nerve cells that directly innervate muscles to produce movement. They are the final pathway for motor commands from the brain.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024
Upper Motor Neurons are essential for initiating voluntary movements and for regulating reflexes. Damage to UMNs can result in spastic paralysis and increased muscle tone. Lower Motor Neurons, in contrast, are directly involved in the contraction of muscles. Damage to LMNs can lead to flaccid paralysis, muscle atrophy, and decreased muscle tone.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024
UMNs communicate with LMNs through a complex set of pathways in the central nervous system, ensuring that muscle movements are coordinated and smooth. The absence or dysfunction of Upper Motor Neurons can disrupt this communication, leading to uncoordinated movements. Lower Motor Neurons, being closer to the muscles, are responsible for the direct activation of muscle fibers and are crucial for executing the final motor commands.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024
Upper Motor Neurons modulate reflexes and influence muscle tone and movement patterns. They are not directly connected to muscles but rather connect to LMNs, which then connect to muscles. Lower Motor Neurons have a direct connection to muscles and are responsible for generating the necessary force for muscle contraction.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024
UMNs are part of the central nervous system and their cell bodies are located in the cerebral cortex or the brainstem. Lesions in the UMNs often result in specific types of weakness and reflex changes. LMNs are part of the peripheral nervous system, with cell bodies in the anterior horn of the spinal cord or the cranial nerve nuclei, and lesions in LMNs lead to a different set of motor deficits.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Location

Brain and spinal cord
Spinal cord or brainstem
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

Function

Initiate and regulate movement
Directly innervate muscles for movement
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

Pathway

Central nervous system
Peripheral nervous system
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

Damage Symptoms

Spastic paralysis, increased muscle tone
Flaccid paralysis, muscle atrophy, decreased tone
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

Role in Muscle Action

Control and modulation of movements
Execution of movements
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024
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Upper Motor Neuron and Lower Motor Neuron Definitions

Upper Motor Neuron

Brain and spinal cord neurons that indirectly affect muscle movements.
The pathway of Upper Motor Neurons is crucial for smooth movement execution.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 19, 2024

Lower Motor Neuron

Neurons that connect the spinal cord to skeletal muscles.
Lower Motor Neurons transmit signals for muscle contraction.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 19, 2024

Upper Motor Neuron

Neurons that convey impulses for muscle control and coordination.
Upper Motor Neurons play a key role in regulating muscle tone.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 19, 2024

Lower Motor Neuron

Peripheral nervous system neurons that activate muscle fibers.
Injuries to Lower Motor Neurons can lead to muscle weakness.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 19, 2024

Upper Motor Neuron

Neurons in the central nervous system that initiate motor commands.
Damage to Upper Motor Neurons can result in reflex changes.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 19, 2024
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Lower Motor Neuron

Direct pathways from the brainstem or spinal cord to muscles.
Lower Motor Neurons facilitate direct muscle activation.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 19, 2024

Upper Motor Neuron

Neurons that originate in the brain's motor cortex and modulate lower motor neurons.
Upper Motor Neurons are essential for controlling voluntary movements.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 19, 2024

Lower Motor Neuron

Neurons responsible for the execution of movements in muscles.
Damage to Lower Motor Neurons often causes flaccid paralysis.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 19, 2024

Upper Motor Neuron

Central nervous system cells that influence muscle movement.
Lesions in the Upper Motor Neurons can lead to spasticity.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 19, 2024

Lower Motor Neuron

Neurons that extend from the spinal cord to muscles, causing contraction.
Lower Motor Neurons are directly responsible for muscle movements.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 19, 2024

Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is the role of Upper Motor Neurons?

They initiate and regulate voluntary movements and reflexes.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

What are Lower Motor Neurons?

Lower Motor Neurons are nerve cells that extend from the spinal cord or brainstem to muscles.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

What are Upper Motor Neurons?

Upper Motor Neurons are nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control lower motor neurons.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

Can Upper Motor Neurons directly stimulate muscles?

No, they modulate lower motor neurons which then stimulate muscles.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

Where are Lower Motor Neurons located?

Lower Motor Neurons are located in the spinal cord or brainstem.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

Where are Upper Motor Neurons located?

Upper Motor Neurons are located in the brain's motor cortex and the spinal cord.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

How do Lower Motor Neurons execute muscle action?

They directly activate muscle fibers for contraction.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

How do diseases affect Upper Motor Neurons?

Diseases can affect their ability to transmit signals, leading to movement disorders.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

How do Upper Motor Neurons influence muscle action?

They modulate reflexes and influence muscle tone and movement patterns.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

Are Lower Motor Neurons part of the peripheral nervous system?

Yes, they are part of the peripheral nervous system.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

What is the role of Lower Motor Neurons?

They directly innervate muscles to produce movement.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

What happens when Upper Motor Neurons are damaged?

Damage can lead to spastic paralysis and increased muscle tone.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

What happens when Lower Motor Neurons are damaged?

Damage can lead to flaccid paralysis, muscle atrophy, and decreased muscle tone.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

What symptoms indicate Upper Motor Neuron lesions?

Symptoms include increased reflexes, muscle spasticity, and weakness.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

Do Upper Motor Neurons directly connect to muscles?

No, they connect to Lower Motor Neurons, which then connect to muscles.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

Are Upper Motor Neurons part of the central nervous system?

Yes, they are part of the central nervous system.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

What symptoms indicate Lower Motor Neuron lesions?

Symptoms include decreased reflexes, muscle weakness, and atrophy.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

Can Lower Motor Neurons directly stimulate muscles?

Yes, they directly stimulate muscles.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

Do Lower Motor Neurons directly connect to muscles?

Yes, they have a direct connection to muscles.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

How do diseases affect Lower Motor Neurons?

Diseases can lead to muscle weakness, paralysis, and atrophy.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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