During our class discussions, we have referred to behavior as patterned output using the example of various patterns/sequences of muscle innervation such as running, extending the arm, etc. These are all examples of physical behaviors and of patterned outputs from the biggest box, the nervous system. At the same time, during the first week we also classified mental functions such as thinking, feeling, dreaming, learning, etc. as behaviors as well. Given that we have dealt with behaviors as patterned outputs from the largest box involving muscular innervation, my question is whether we can extend this example of behavior as patterns of outputs to non-physical, mental behaviors as well. Mental functions such as dreaming, feeling, and learning involve measurable outputs produced by the visual cortex mediated by the pons, the amygdala, and the hippocampus respectively. Similar to the examples of muscular outputs characterized as behaviors cited above, cortical activity during REM sleep is patterned as are the theta rhythms and LTPs produced during learning. On the other hand, unlike these physical examples of motor outputs, cortical outputs involved in thinking, learning, feeling -- these mental behaviors -- are outputs from interneurons within smaller boxes of the central nervous system. How do we classify the nature of the outputs of the visual cortex activated during REM stage sleep or the hippocampus during learning or remembering? Are they considered behaviors despite the fact that they involve outputs from interneurons in the smaller boxes of the nervous system? Do we still classify them as behaviors? If so, then do we modify our concept of a behavior as patterned motor outputs from the nervous system to include patterned outputs of interneurons in smaller boxes of the nervous system to accommodate these mental behaviors?

Nice question, and obvious extension. Sure, once we get used to behavior as patterns of motoneuron activity it will make a lot of sense to at least entertain the idea that those things which don't involve motoneuron activity can also be thought of as patterns of neuronal activity. PG