It is understood that a person with a broken neck has severed the nerves between the spinal cord to the brain. Thus if you pinch the toe, the foot will withdraw but there is no way for the information to get to the motor neurons in the cranium. This may seem obvious, but if the person canUt say that they feel pain or do not feel pain from the pinching of the toe, then how do they know they can't feel their legs? What in the brain tells them that have lost feeling in their legs? Another question I was curious about was the situation of walking and running activating the same channels then how does a person know which they are doing?

In "How We Control the Contractions of our Muscles" by P.A Merton, it is stated that "...self-regulating properties on a muscle, causing it automatically to adjust to changes in load, without any need for the orders that the brain sends down to be altered." If the foot knows it is being pinched and withdraws and if the muscles are self-regulating then why can't the muscles of the foot and legs regulate themselves to the standing position, even though the brain may not know that person is standing? In the article "Brain Mechanisms of Movement" by Edward V. Evarts, I think this question is answered. He states that "the inputs from these various cortical and sub cortical structures work together to control the final outputs from motor cortex to the spinal cord and thence to the muscles". So even if the muscles are self-regulating they are so only in part and the other part needs the brain. In conclusion the behavior of a person with a broken neck can be explained by studying the outputs and inputs and the connection between the spinal cord and the brain.

Yep. But it does raise some interesting further issues, as you also note. Will talk more about capabilities of spinal cord (which include walking, running), but in general the only way the rostral part of the nervous system could know they were happening is by looking (or hearing). And the running/walking/muscle self-regulation would not, as normally, be modified by vision or by gravity/motion signals (8th cranial nerve). PG