The structural and functional construct of a motor symphony as a description for the organisation of the nervous system seems reasonable. In tune with our earlier models of the nervous system as a multitude of boxes within boxes, the motor symphony can be used to describe both structure and function in a way that implicates both aspects of the existence of the nervous system simultaneously- structure cannot be separated from function if we choose to question why an organism has a particular structure. Thus each section of the orchestra is analogous to the various centers of "higher" function, and each instrument is analogous either to the neuron itself, or to extremely simple and repeated combinations of neurons.

A motor symphony hence implies that a score is stored somewhere, which leads to the idea of central pattern generation. Behaviourally, a stored score is analogous to a certain type of behaviour being genetically determined.

We are taught that phenotypes, the physical manifestations of the genetic makeup of the organism, are influenced partly by genes and partly by the environment, and partly by developmental noise. It is the degree to which each component acts on the organism that results in the final masterpiece that is the behaviour in question. Thus a stored score may not have a component that is environmentally determined. It is usually the environment that ACTIVATES the score, and causes the harmonious (or not so harmonious) interaction of the various instruments, but the score is predetermined.

Perhaps all behaviours, when reduced to their fundamental characteristics, are predetermined. Perhaps the different complex behaviours that we observe in our daily lives are merely different patterns of interactions, different sections of the symphony playing different pieces at different times relative to one another and to each other within the section as well.

Perhaps learned behaviour is only the activation of existing circuits that have never been used before. Much of the neural matter that we are born with degenerates as we age. Theories suggest that this occurs because these pathways fall into disuse, or are never used, and so are destroyed to increase the efficiency of the functioning of the nervous system. This supports the view that much or all of what we do is based on predetermined circuitry, the infinite combinations of which give rise to variation in observed behaviours.

But all this implies a central pattern existence, not a central pattern generation. The latter implies that the pattern does eventually become a stored score to be used perhaps periodically by the motor symphony, but that its initiation occurred not as a function of it genetic makeup, but due to other factors which could be internal or external.

Thus the concept of a motor symphony, in conjunction with that of central pattern generation, seems to be reasonably adept at explaining behaviours that require the pre- existence of deterministic factors. The various sections of the orchestra look to the conductor for instruction, as well as to the score. While each individual is aware of his/ her individual role, it lies with the conductor to coordinate the various movements, while adding a bit of his own style in so that the whole is more than just the sum of its parts. This could be used to describe the functioning of the brain as the central processing house, but it doesn't explain very well the observation that some behaviours seem to bypass the brain- the autonomy of the spinal cord distributes labour that is not described by the motor symphony construct. Perhaps we need another addendum to the integral idea, to encompass a wider range of observed behaviours.

Very interesting wrestling with the concepts and their broader implications. Certainly the ideas of motor symphony and central pattern generation can generalize to wider spheres of behavior, as you do. Careful, though, about the simplification (and fatalization) that everything is there at the outset, with nothing really "new" ever happening. Yes, there is a lot of initial structure, but there is also a persistent capacity to create new structure (hence, not all behavior has to be a subset or reorganization of what originally there). Careful too about looking for a "conductor". What we'll find (I think) is that the "brain" is just a collection of interacting boxes, in the same sense that the "brain" and "spinal cord" are interacting boxes (and in the same sense that swimmeret beat emerges from the interactions among the boxes, rather than having a master box or conductor). "Coordination", in general, has to come out of the interactions (somehow). But yes, we'll need another addendum "to encompass a wider range of observed behaviors". Not a conductor, but at least one other box, the I-function. PG