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Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities

Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities has 50 remote-ready activities, which work for either your classroom or remote teaching.

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An ongoing conversation on brain and behavior, associated with Biology 202, spring, 2000, at Bryn Mawr College. Student responses to weekly lecture/discussions and topics.


The concepts of "motor symphony", "central pattern generation", and "corollary discharge" have solid observational/experimental bases and meanings with reference to the motor or output side of the nervous system. In what ways might they be useful in trying to make sense not only of one's experiences with movement control but perhaps also of other aspects of brain/behavior?

Name: Laurel
Subject: think vs. feel
Date: Thu Mar 16 21:25:16 EST 2000
Our discussion about the destructive interference of the I-function and CPGs today was thought-provoking. It made me consider all sorts of different scenarios in which concentration is key, but over-thinking is detrimental to performance. We mentioned several of them today—driving, bike-riding, piano-playing. Actually, this discussion harkened back to my original web paper topic for which I had trouble finding appropriate materials….muscle memory. I too took many years of piano lessons throughout my childhood and then again in college. I haven’t played regularly in several years now, and have assumed that most of my painstakingly memorized pieces had vanished from my subconscious. For Christmas I got an electronic keyboard…when I was tinkering with it one day, I discovered this to be mostly true. But when I went to play the intro to Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration”, which I learned when I was ten, I remembered every single note! It almost felt like I was outside my body watching my hands play the keys. I thought this was very cool and wanted to look into the phenomenon. But I was quickly frustrated by my web research—after the millionth golf site appeared, I gave up. Perhaps I’ll renew the effort for the next project.

Trying to come up with learned (not genetic) CPGs was surprisingly challenging today. Maybe I hadn’t fully understood the distinction between learned and genetic CPGs before. From the examples we did come up with, such as typing and playing the piano, it would seem that learned CPGs serve not vital purpose in out lives except to provide enjoyment and/or employment opportunities; is there any good biological reason to learn these elective CPGs? Does genetics determine all of our vital CPGs, or are there any that are 100% learned? I always seem to end with a question. Until next time, then.

Name: Paul Grobstein
Username: pgrobste
Subject: week 8
Date: Sat Mar 18 09:56:12 EST 2000
Hope you all agree with Laurel that moving into thinking about what collections of neurons can do raises some interesting new questions. Last week's thoughts about the basis and possible implications of "motor symphonies", "central pattern generation", and "corollary discharge" are here. So ... now that we've talked more about these concepts, what do you think? How about the following for a possible starting question (with you, as always, free to write about whatever you happen to have been thinking about):

The concepts of "motor symphony", "central pattern generation", and "corollary discharge" have solid observational/experimental bases and meanings with reference to the motor or output side of the nervous system. In what ways might they be useful in trying to make sense not only of one's experiences with movement control but perhaps also of other aspects of brain/behavior?

Name: hillary bobys
Subject: Michael Jordan vs. Shakespeare
Date: Sun Mar 19 20:46:54 EST 2000
I raised the question in class of whether writers have the same sense of being unaware of their actions when they are writing as Michael Jordan does when he performs a phenomenal basketball play. This question has stuck in my mind over the weekend.

On friday morning i participated in a writing workshop with Cherrie Moraga, a Chicana writer some of you might be familiar with. To begin the workshop she suggested that we try to approach the writing table "empty" or turn off the I function. She then gave us a phrase to free write from. The only instruction was to continue writing and not stop. It was the best writing i have produced in a long time. Not because it was particularly coherent or good, per se, but because connections arose in the two pages that i would have never come across if i had been concetrating on what i was doing.

I am not sure if this qualifies as a non-genetic central pattern generator or not, but it seems much like the typing example in class. One word in my writing did not necessarily depend on what was written before it. I think. I would like other people's ideas on this if anyone has any.

I don't want to keep babbling, but i was also thinking about corollary discharge and scary movies and music. Does the arousal from scary music cause visceral anticipatory reactions (fight or flight) that aren't needed because there is no real danger, thereby mismatching expectations?

Name: Melissa
Subject: CPG's and schizophrenia
Date: Sun Mar 19 21:28:29 EST 2000
I definitely have had Hillary's experience of writing better when I do not approach it with a really self-critical, "that thought does not make sense and so I shouldn't write it" mentality. So in that sense it does seem that writing in the absence of the "I" function can be very creative and productive... so at first when I read Hillary's posting I thought "yeah, that is a central pattern generator", but then as I read back over the posting a second time, a line jumped out that put this into question for me. Hillary wrote, " connections arose in the two pages that i would have never come across if i had been concetrating on what i was doing. " to me the fact that one thought that she was writing, then somehow connected her to another idea of a way to go, perhaps in another direction, means that in the writing process, one thought WAS dependent on another and therefore, by definition would not be a I am questioning myself...I mean after all, when one is typing, the keys that are pressed sequentially do in fact go together, the point is that a later one does not depend on the previous one...but it still feels like in the case that Hillary described, the later part of her writing was powerful because it was connected to or grew out of the earlier parts so it would seem there was interdependence involved.

This has brought up another thought in me...all this writing about CPG's and motor symphonies and whether output is governed by an internal score or whether it is constantly modified as it is being "outputted"...i.e. that the score is being written as it is performed by other sensory input....okay so how does this connect with schizophrenia--well I was thinking about a behavior that is common amongst many schizophrenics in which they talk in "word salads"...the idea is that you will ask a question like "how are you today" to which a schizophrenic will answer " I am feeling a little is the color of dress...dressing goes on the salad" and go on and on making these random associations...okay so here is my theory...granted this in no way explains the complex pathology of schizophrenia...but it made me think... It seems like when it comes to the verbalization of their thoughts, something goes wrong which might be a problem with a sort of verbal CPG...they are not able to stick to the internal score of the plan of what they set out to say, but rather are too much influenced by their own words which are a source of sensory input that is influencing the next thing that they what happens is that the next thought that they produce IS affected by and therefore becomes dependent on the last word that they said...of course in normal people our sentances take account of the sentances that we said previously, but with schizophrenics, its like they often can't take account of the whole thought, but rather just the sensory input of the last word that they said...I realize that I am moving this out of the realm of the MOTOR to more complex behaviors such as thoughtful speech, but its just what I started thinking about.

Name: Maria
Subject: Replies
Date: Sun Mar 19 23:42:30 EST 2000
At the beginning of the semester I was thinking of the same type of concept that Hillary has brought up about the music from scary movies and the affect it has on the viewer. The situation that came to mind was, if two individuals were watching a horror movie, where one person was deaf and the other had all their senses what types of behavior would we observe? The deaf person might not be as scared as the other individual, the reactions and behaviors exhibited by the two individuals could be totally different, but then again they could have exactly the same reaction.

Schizophrenia is pretty interesting. In high school we had presentations for my science class, and I researched schizophrenia. The word means splitting of the mind. The behaviors of individuals who suffer form schizophrenia have characteristics of withdrawing from reality and thinking in illogical, confused patterns. Interestingly, I think more women suffer from this disease than men do. Schizophrenics often suffer disturbances in mood and behavior. Some patients seem to feel no emotions, but others display inappropriate emotions, such as laughing at sad situations. Doctors don’t know the cause of schizophrenia, but there is a lot of evidence that the disease results from an inherited defect involving certain brain chemicals, like neurotransmitters, so the brain can not communicate with itself (this is how I take it). Maybe their CPG, or score is programmed to talk in “ word salads”, as Melissa mentioned. I remember reading that dopamine is an important neurotransmitter that schizophrenics release an excess amount of. What does this have to do with CPGs? How about drugs that decrease the amount of dopamine made and psychotherapy although they are not cures they are altering the behavior of these patients and transforming them in to so call “normal” people.

Name: Laura
Username: lchivers
Subject: interneurons
Date: Mon Mar 20 19:50:44 EST 2000
All this talk about interneurons from one CPG communicating with another CPG helped me to make more sense of the percentage of interneurons that we have in our brain. If every CPG has to send out a message to the next, and there are huge numbers of CPGs, there would have to be a lot of interneurons. And since the CPGs seem to be themselves composed (at least in part) of interneurons, even more interneurons would be requires\d in the system. It also would make sense to me that one CPG could tell more than one other CPG ion complex movements, thus creating a need for even more interneurons. The sheer number of neurons needed just for teh CPG system seems immense, and I know that they are only a part of teh nervous system!

The idea of corollary discharge also seems to explain something about myself. Although not to the degree of a schizophrenic, I often come up with strange associations. To my friends, something I say may seem to come "out of the blue", when I have come to think about it and say it in a way that "makes sense" in my head. Perhaps this is a results of corollary discharge, which tells one part of my brain what another has thought of, activating that connection. Perhaps I have more connections in my brain then most people, which causes me to think of things from something else in a way that most others don't. Or perhaps the connections terminate in different places than for most people. Or maybe it's not connected at all. But it is an interesting thought.

Name: Ann Mitchell
Subject: appropriately complex
Date: Mon Mar 20 20:51:45 EST 2000
I think that Melissa is on the right track by second guessing herself-this concept of CPG and motor symphony is not as straightforward as it seems, and I don’t think it should be viewed as such. We seem to be getting to the point where a lot of these concepts are interacting with each other rather than either being one or the other and this is imperative to the process of thinking about neurobiology and the biology of behavior.

We just studied Sz in my memory and cognition class today, and I’d like to correct Maria by saying that Sz is almost 3x’s more prevalent in men than in women. Some researchers think that this is because women are protected by the estrogen in their body.

One interesting feature of the subjective description of Sz is how patients will describe the speed of their thoughts, specifically relating to neologisms. One patient said that part of the reason why Sz’s invent neologisms is because they are thinking too quickly to spit out one word and instead they spit a combination of the two. This also happens to normal people as well, but obviously less frequently. This example reminds me of the example of typing-the act itself of speaking is so automatic that words fly out of the mouth faster than the person can think about them and they aren’t dependent upon the first or last word because the speed with which they are thinking or talking is so fast.

Another problem that our class attempted to discuss was therapy for Sz’s. If someone is trying to use behavioral therapy(in combination with drugs) on an Sz patient with negative symptoms, would it really be worth that person’s while, no matter how much they believe in their psychoanalytic theory? Someone in class suggested that in order for therapy of this nature to work, the Sz patient would have to be aware of, or at least comprehend to some extent the fact that they had Sz and what the therapist was trying to help them with. Yet, it is difficult to gage the exact level of comprehension of someone who doesn’t speak in semantically meaningful phrases. If the phrases are the only thing that are used to indicate their level of comprehension, then it would appear that these Sz patients are hopeless, and therapy is a lost cause. Yet, apparently? in some cases therapy does work. It seems to me that the only way this would work is if the Sz patient had a higher ability to comprehend language than to speak it. I remember feeling frustrated when I was abroad in France because I could understand a lot better than I could speak, and this seems to be the normal pattern for learning a language because little kids can exhibit higher comprehension through playing tasks than actual speaking ability.

What does all this have to do with a CPG? Well, the first example obviously implies that there is a CPG, but Melissa has a valid point by second guessing herself and exactly how it happens that one action/thought can be completely independent of another. The second example suggests that even though speech may seems to indicate a CPG, what is actually going on at the level of thoughts or neurons is different. I think this same level of complexity arises in the example of music as well. Some people postulate that musicians are musicians because they have better spacial/mathematical ability, but perhaps being a good musician or being a good athlete simply means that you have excellent automatic function mode-your brain is good at slipping into habit unconsciously and has the ability to not become bothered by awareness. Is it possible that Sz’s are the extreme case of someone who is stuck in an "automatic" mode? If it was the case that Sz’s understood more than they could say, then would the extent to which a musician has bothered to develop his/her concept of music matter in terms of what is actually played/produced? What is the extent to which a more developed concept of something can facilitate a behavior?

Name: Vandana
Subject: the world is moving...
Date: Mon Mar 20 20:54:30 EST 2000
i really thought that the perception demonstration in class of the world moving was neat. it was interesting that the demonstration provided a comparison of two situations, one in which the movement resulted from contractions of muscles of the eye, while the other did not. i think we should have more demos like that :)

also, i found the previous comments all interesting. responding to hillary's comment, i also have experienced that when i am not thinking about writing, my writing tends to flow better. maybe, it is because CPGs that are results of experience, tend to work faster or better in this case than CPGs that are results from genetic information. it also may be due to practice, in which the connections of a CPG are hooked together better between neurons.

Name: Cameron
Subject: No Association
Date: Mon Mar 20 21:06:07 EST 2000
First off one question I had from last Tuesday when we were talking about the birds and the learned vs genetic CPG's was that the ones who were in the "straight jackets", could they have "learned" the art of flying by watching the other birds and by observation like humans learn from observation and if so then the experiment is not quite final becuase it doesnt necessarily prove that that CPG is genetic. Just a thought.

Another random thought is that CPG's and learned patterns that meet with expectations etc. is a good explanation for "Old dogs dont learn new tricks" This statement is as true for humans as any other creature witha brain and if one does learn a particular pattern of thought or action and that "path" of neuron synapses is established then I am quite sure it would be hard to change the path. A CPG of acting a certain way when something is suggested, behaving a certain way in relationships or trying to unteach bad habits across the board in animals I am sure are hard to recourse becuase it is a learned pattern and one that one doesn't "think" about to do, it just happens, as with playing a particular song. So next time I get mad at a guy in my life for behaving a certain way I must remember that CPG's are hard to override and convince him to "think" about it, therefore turning the I function back on.

Oh and Laura, I agree with you on the random associations because I too make some doosies. Many things make sense to me that really dont to other people so I agree its worth looking into whether a "line" of thought that is thought to be "common" or "normal" originates/terminates somewhere different than "others" I think this might have some sort of connection to to what we define as creativity/imagination or "oddity/strangness".

Name: Anna
Subject: Some of my Own Experiences
Date: Mon Mar 20 22:35:28 EST 2000
I was not in class on Thursday and it seems from the discussion on the forum that I missed a very interesting discussion in class. There has been a lot of discussion about these CPGs and motor symphonies. The first thing that I found so interesting about them is the experimental methods used to test them; the bird experiment was absolutely ingenious. I also found it interesting that we tried to make the score for the crayfish so complex, when it could have easily been solved by as many as three neurons. That lends further support to belief that a complex nervous system can easily be made of a building block like the neuron; it also shows how essential it is to understand what neurons are capable of doing. The whole question of CPGs’ origins is intriguing. It seems almost obvious that they are both learned and genetic- after all we do not perform the same set of motor symphonies that we performed as children. Some where along the line we learned new motor symphonies- developed new central pattern generators to play the new scores. The thing that plagues me about motor symphonies is that there seems to be an infinite amount- which suggests to me that not all of them come even from learned central pattern generators. The variation of motor symphonies used to move makes me think that it would be virtually impossible to give Christopher Reeves a device to put in his mouth to spark central pattern generators. It seems that our model for this has been oversimplified; there seem to be many nuances in walking that one or two buttons could not capture. The ability to solve his problem in that way would be amazing though.

I like the thoughts raised in Laurel’s post. Over thinking does seem to have a detrimental effect on certain types of performance. I remember when we got our first computer and I was learning to type. If anyone watched me while I was doing those silly timed test, I did so much worse. I was concentrating to hard instead of letting my hands just do there own thing. Now I type so much I actually probably type faster than I write- I never have to think about where the keys are. I too had experiences like Laurel’s piano playing. I took ballet for six years and I often find myself doing the repetitive little ballet steps that I learned so long ago- mostly when I am standing at the kitchen counter, which seems to be very similar to the ballet bars. I also still walk with my feet slightly turned out. Is all of this simply the result of learned central pattern generators? If all of this is central pattern generators (either learned or genetic), what causes them to be sparked at such random times? Could they be sparked by the familiar sensory input- like that of the bar? I am looking forward to what we will be discussing tomorrow- I hope I am not far off track on these central pattern generators and that some of what I posted is relevant to the discussion I missed.

Name: Soo
Subject: Weekly Essay #7
Date: Mon Mar 20 23:10:40 EST 2000
Reading Laurel's comment about being able to play a piece from memory on the piano after many years made me do some thinking. I play piano as well and my piano teacher would make me memorize the piece each hand separately. She said that it was not really memorizing if you sit on the piano and just let your hands run. She said that you have to be conscious and aware of every note that you are playing -- you'd have to be able to see the notes in your head. And only when I was able to do this, would she say that I had a piece fully memorized. Now, how this relates to the topic? I'm not really sure. I just thought of it and thought I would share.

Oh, and I really found that "poking eye" exercise really interesting. I was seriously puzzled by why the background moved when we poked our eye but didn't when we followed our finger with our eye. That really caught my attention and I hope we get to talk more about it in class tomorrow.

Name: Elissa Braitman
Subject: driving.
Date: Mon Mar 20 23:25:40 EST 2000
The discussion about the role of CPGs in schizophrenia was interesting. I had no idea that it is more prevalent in men than women. I'm curious about how estrogen protects women against it. Then what is different about the estrogen in the women who do have it? I was also wondering what percentage of schizophrenics exhibit the "word salad" speech. I have a friend who is 23 and was diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was 18 (as is, I guess, the typical age for the symptoms to manifest themselves).And I was trying to recall if she did anything like that. I don't think so. But just because she's not saying anything "weird" doesn't necessarily mean she's not thinking in that way.

I was also thinking about driving recently. Professor Grobstein said that skilled/experienced(although the two are not necessarily synonymous... okay, maybe "comfortable ) drivers don't think about the act of driving, something that is learned and perfected by experience. Well, whenever I go home for a break (and at least four months have passed since I last drove anywhere), I'm always afraid that I've forgotten everything (including how exactly to drive to various places I've been to a million times). Of course, I've usually lost sleep over nothing because I remember everything as it comes up. And, after the first forty-five minute trip (the standard driving time to go most anywhere in L.A.), I stop thinking about the act of driving and it's all automatic. The other thing is that my parents both had cars with manual transmissions so, until recently, I had only really driven those. When I started driving an automatic fairly often after not driving one in about 5, I had to remove my left shoe so I wouldn't be tempted to hit the break thinking it was the clutch. I've always wondered what would happen if I didn't drive a stick shift for a while, would I remember the technique that took me so long to feel competent in? I suspect that it would come back to me (after stalling a couple of times).

Name: christina
Username: cpili@haverford
Subject: CPG and Corollary Discharge
Date: Mon Mar 20 23:34:00 EST 2000
Ok, I've been focusing on the nature vs nuture conflict. I guess this was triggered by the birds who were trying to fly in comparison to the birds who were placed in straight jackets. It was determined that the triaing and prepping had nothing to do with the ability to fly. Contained within our personal genetic clock, CPG's are being constructed without outside influence at our own rate.

In response to Cameron, is the saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks," do you think this happens because like the young birds, there comes a point in which the brain stops maturing? I'm not sure if this is what you're aiming at, but perhaps an older canine brain just takes twice as long to connect the corollary discharges...eventually learning the trick but not very quickly. Just like with the guy....I'm sure you can "train" a willing and open minded guy what he needs to learn. I would not blame his behavior purely on a lack of the right CPG's functioning up there.

Recently, after coming home from dance class, the teacher suggested going over the phrase and ingraining it in our bodies. As most dancers do, they rehearse over and over again, physically. My approach to learning a combination has always been through a "brain rehearsal." Once the right connections and the order of events has been organized by my head, only then can i effectively perform the combination. I'm not exactly sure where I'm going with this thought, but I do realize that we all train our brains so that we can behave in a certain way. This relates back the notion of writing when not really thinking concept. Perhaps this is so because the topics you are writing about have been exhaustively analyzed and are now seem like they automatically pour out without any major thought. The same thing happens to me when I perform after rehearsing the dance for so long. The movements have been fixated in the same CPGS for such a long time so that when the performance arrives, I do not "think" on stage, I merely just dance it.

Name: susan lee
Subject: I-function
Date: Tue Mar 21 00:04:29 EST 2000
After reading about everyone's reading experiences I am reminded of the times that I would have a piano recital or competition. Before performing I would get really really nervous and afraid of forgetting parts of the piece. I noticed that if I let my instinctual side take over I would have no problems...but as soon as I tried to visualize what phrase or notes would follow I would falter. Sometimes I was unable to pick up where I messed up. In order to finish I would have to go back to a phrase that I knew by insticnt.

This seems to pertain to what Soo wrote about her piano teacher saying that in order to memorize the piece one must know each hand separately. This makes me wonder about the distinction between memorization and motor output. I find it interesting that one is able to perform a piece even though it isn't memorized (by memorized I mean that the person is able to visualize the notes). Does this imply that CPGs develop faster than analytical abitlites?

Name: hiro
Subject: pole vaulting and cpg
Date: Tue Mar 21 00:35:20 EST 2000
i was going to talk about the piano because i've played it for a long time, too, but since someone has already brought it up, i will talk about something that i have just started to learn - pole vaulting. i'm on the track team at haverford, and i've started to vault two months ago. there are lots of techniques for me to learn. i really want to mention first that this is such a crazy event. you don't really see a person sprinting around the city with the full speed and with a very long pole in her hand. it's just not normal. a vaulter's body turns upside-down in the air somehow, but when she falls, she lands on her back with her legs pointing to where she took off. you probably have NO idea what i'm talking about, but it's totally ok; i can't get it quite right myself, either. my point is that this is just NOT NORMAL! and thus, the motor symphony required in this event cannot depend on genetics; it has to be learned.

in the process of learning, i have to use i-function first. for example, my i-function has to send a command to my skeletal muscles so that i can turn my body as i reach the peak in the air. in the beginning, this motion does not happen naturally. i have to MAKE myself to do so. besides, it feels very awkward. however, using my i-function, i repeat the same motion. after many tries, the awkward feeling disappears, and moreover, it starts to feel right/natural. now, i don't have to tell myself to turn my body in the air; it just happens. i think that as the motion becomes natural and spontaneous like this, i acquire CPG for turning my body in the air.

there are some problems. what happens in the brain when the motion repeated by i-function creates the CPG? does the responsibility to my body's turning move from i-function to CPG gradually or suddenly?

i belive that memory somehow plays a very important role in the switching of i-function and CPG. once i do something right, i have to remeber what i have done and how it felt like exactly. then, my i-function commands my body to reproduce the same movement from what i remember. so, somewhere in the brain, the memory of a particular motor symphony pathway must be stored. in the beginning, this must be a short-term memory because it is very difficult to do the same thing again. after repeating for so many times, the memory becomes a long-term one, causing the CPG to be created in the brain somehow. how is memory related to i-function and CPG?

Name: mridula shrestha
Subject: more on cpgs
Date: Tue Mar 21 01:28:32 EST 2000
i know we're trying to stay limited to motor skills with regard to cpgs for now, but it makes me wonder...are there templates for emotion? for thought? except for reflexes, in my experience emotion and thought feels relatively more immediate a reaction than muscular/skeletal movement. and there seems to be (but this is totally arguable) a general consensus about what "happiness" or "grief" means--sometimes even about the degrees of these. so if there are templates, i guess they might not only recurr within a certain person given the right circumstances but also across different people given the right circumstances? the "right" circumstances vary from person to person, and maybe even for the same person, of course. so how can we generate this similar feeling of anxiousness so many times as we go through exams, of sadness when things don't work out, of elation when we get a rewarding surprise--these are not once in a lifetime feelings, are they? and we know how they feel, and they happen so quickly that it seems hard to believe that these complex emotions are recreated every time from scratch. why reinvent the wheel, right? it just seems inefficient for our systems to do that. but i doubt that "new" emotions, or new degrees of emotions (there are really just supposed to be 6 anyway, according to a psychologist whose name i now forget) take longer than old ones, so maybe this whole reference to speed doesn't make any sense. but it would be interesting to know that if templates of basic emotion are created in infancy or childhood, how they are stored--this relates to the memory question for motor skills too i guess--what combinations they can be used to make, and what the mechanisms through which drugs that alter these states reveal about the possiblity of emotional templates.
Name: shigeyuki
Subject: sports and music
Date: Tue Mar 21 01:51:45 EST 2000
i have a question. This applies to both sports and music. Many aspects like playing the piano or pole vaulting is accomplished by the CPG's. But what about people who can do it without any prior experience or just a little. Does it mean that it has something to do with genetics, or is it just that their learning CPG's develop quicker.

about piano performances. Is there a mechanism that takes over when your brain is nervous and just blanks?? does the brain work differently in such situations because you are nervous??

Name: rebecca
Subject: cpg
Date: Tue Mar 21 08:11:40 EST 2000
I would like to say that it seems hard for me to believe that turning the I-function off improves cpg. I can not really think of any examples where this is true for me. When I want to do something with more acuracy such as typing i have to think of the letters. Most tasks such as riding a bike or driving a car i am usually telling myself what to do the whole time sometimes out loud. I gotten many strange looks from talking to myself outloud my i would seriously forget what I was doing in the middle of it if I did not talk to myself. An example is if i am walking down the hall i might go up and down it several times before i remembered which class i was going to. so in my case it would seem that central pattern generators work better with an I-function or that they do not work well in general. Or it may just be the abibility to concentrate which is necessary for the generators does not work well on me it might be ADHD as I have it and have read of similar things. Just a thought about cpgs not always working the way they are suposed to.
Name: Jennifer Webster
Username: jwebster
Subject: CPGs and the "I fundtion"
Date: Tue Mar 21 09:47:17 EST 2000
I've been thinking a lot about how we develop CPGs. I can remember watching my brother, who is 14 years younger than I am when he was trying to figure out how to walk. The aspects of walking that are so natural for us, bend knee, place foot forward, shift weight heel to toe, he had to figure out. This leads me to believe that there must be some sort of a CPG in place with walking that corroborates with collary discharge to adjust for things like maintaining balance and avoiding obstacles. However, it seems like the basic motor symphony involved in walking does indeed exist. We certainly don't have to reinvent it every time we take a step. I can remember the same thing happening with tennis. All of my strokes were essentially the same, I did not think about the mechanics of a forehand, I simply made adjustments to a basic swing to put spin on and place it where I wanted it. Is it at all possible that we can actually develop CPGs that work together with outside input?

I was then thinking about how this concept may apply to non-motor activities. With such great emphasis placed on cognitive development in recent research, I was considering the different ways of learning and thinking about things that have been defined. Researchers will tell you that some people are audial learners, some people are visual; some people think mathmatically, some scientifically, some verbally. Could all of these different styles of learning actually have to do with simply having more CPGs in, for instance, the part of your brain that processes audio signals, therefore it would be easier and faster for the person to use that part of their brain. A lot of writers do say that the ideas just flow, like they are coming from somewhere else, and if they think about it too much, they lose it. This is the same observation we'd made about motor CPGs. Could it be possible that we develop CPGs for certain thinking processes?

Name: Yun-Wen
Subject: response
Date: Tue Mar 21 12:24:16 EST 2000
Today’s demonstration in class was, as usual, very interesting, making me wonder too many things. In response to some comments, I would like to address Hillary’s earlier comment on writing flow. I think many English classes have tried that exercise of training the writer to initiate their writing with a deactivated I-function, and to write whatever comes to mind. The purpose of the exercise, so they usually hope, is for these connections in your writing to arise whereas they normally wouldn’t because our normal thought processes are too organized and fixated to discover them. Because we are, in actually, conscious of the fact that we are writing, and that our ideas are connected, we must realize that our thoughts are conducted in a flow, one idea after another, all interconnected somehow. Therefore it cannot be a CPG. Someone else had brought up corollary discharge and scary movies and music. I, with personal experience, definitely believe that there is a close association between scary music and the reaction of being scared. Hillary also brought up the idea that such music causes visceral anticipatory reactions (fight or flight) that aren't needed because there is, in actuality, no real danger. I believe that we have it linked in our minds that scary music will indicate a scary situation. Myself being a wuss, watched the first scene of the original Scream movie in complete silence (I think even with radio music in the background) to prevent me from getting too scared). And the effect is completely different. Why else would background music be so important to the effectiveness of a movie scene. I don’t know the root cause of such anticipatory reactions to occur in people, but it is because humnas in general do not fear only for themselves, but for others also. Watching someone being slaughtered on the screen will result in almost all of the fight or flight reactions to occur in our bodies, whether we believe there is real danger to ourselves or not.
Name: anonymous
Subject: Stop signs and red lights
Date: Tue Mar 21 12:37:14 EST 2000
As usual, today when i am driving back to haverford from neuro-bio, i thought alot about driving. It occurred to me that there are seemingly three levels of awareness of the world. The first is as awareness that has only a causal effect on us, such as when we stop at a red light, and it is only after a moment of reflection that we assume that the red light, or the stopped cars in front of us must have been the reason for this. Obviously, the I function doesn't figure into this first type of awareness. The second type of awareness is one in which we are actively engaging things in the world. I guess furthering the driving example, this is what happens to us when we are driving late at night on unlit roads, or when we are not quite sure where we are going. On this level of awareness, we are fully engaging the world as it impinges on our sensory aparatus, and i would like to say that the relation between us and the world is not one that is causal as in the first case. Memories of the events of this type of awareness are usually much more vivid (often in the case of the causal picture there are no memories at all) My personal philosophical/neurobilogical explanation of that is that memory is more closely linked to rational/linguistic functions of our brain. If it is in conceptual shape, then it is memorable. I want to say that even in this second case of awareness, the I function doesn't figure either. The third type of awareness is one of reflective awareness in which we are aware of ourselves in a specific situation. Obviously, the I function does figure here. Following the driving example again this sort of thing happens to us when we almost get into a wreck, and then for the next few minutes are acutely aware of ourselves driving. The reason that i am drawing these distinctions is that i think the figure into learning and acquisition of motor symphonies. It seems to me that if i am skiing for instance, that the more heightened my awareness, the more i learn in the course of skiing, but that when i get self consciously aware of my skiing i ski worse.
Name: Andrew Jordan
Subject: OOPS
Date: Tue Mar 21 12:38:13 EST 2000
I forgot to sign the above post... its mine.
Name: Andrew
Subject: response
Date: Wed Mar 22 14:15:04 EST 2000
I also thought that the demonstration in class about the world moving when we poked our eye and the world not moving when we moved the eye with muscles interesting. I understand why the world does not seem to move when we move our eye with muscles, and I also understand the explanation of why the world seems to move when we poke our eyes. The more I've been thinking about it, the less sure I am of it. If by moving the eye with muscles, signals are sent to other parts of the brain that make the image not shake, why does the world shake when we use our hands to move the eye? Why can't the muscles of the hand send signals to the brain, telling the brain what it is doing? If the hand can communicate with that part of the brain, then the brain should be able to correct the shaking like it did when the eye muscles were used. Obviously not every action can communicate with the specific part of the brain, so maybe there just is no connection between these two points.
Name: Richard
Subject: Slugs and Decision
Date: Thu Mar 23 00:24:36 EST 2000
I like how we are talking about CPG's and their relation to the "I function," and I think that Mridula raises a very intriging question about CPG's and their connection to emotions. One strand that we can take to follow that up is that people from all cultures around the world can recognize 7 'basic' emotions. There is probably some sort of CPG involved with either the part of emotion that we 'feel' as well as the behavioral part of emotion.

However, I do think that it is very reductionist to compare human decision making - which is so often tied to emotion - to the whether a slug to withdraw its proboscis. I think that its a bit of a leap (and I know that I'm not the only one that thinks so!).

Another thing - I was not satisfied as to whether CPGs are created and learned, or if we are born with a limited number of "true" CPG's, and what we later learn is somehow structurally or behaviorally different.

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