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jwong's picture

From our discussion on

From our discussion on Tuesday about inputs being a result of outputs, I began to think about these central pattern generators and the analogy that they resemble an orchestra, creating a “motor symphony” of movement, a pattern of action potentials that are based on memory. This idea of a prewritten score was very interesting to me because of the visual that I got from it; from it I began thinking back to when we described the brain as a computer with preprogrammed programs already existing inside of it. By equating behavior with a “motor symphony,” we assume each motor neuron produces different patterns and the mixture of these patterns constitutes behavior. These motor neurons derive instructions from the central nervous system, where sensory organs contain specific sensory neurons called receptors. The receptors then continue on to translate information from the nervous system to different parts of the body in the form of nerve impulses. Seeing such a mechanism made me wonder about how such a complex system could be initiated by experience or whether or not it was a result of genetics. In some readings I found online, I learned that CPGs are actually developed during early embryonic maturity, where efficient motor patterns are initially developed by neural circuitry. An example of this “learning” is demonstrated in the instance of a young bird learning to fly; in the particular experiment, the newborn birds were constrained in straight jackets. After the period of time during which a bird would normally learn how to fly, the jacket was removed and the young birds still had the ability to fly. Thus the motor patterning that determines this characteristic of birds was proven to be of a genetic factor, and that such patterns are not necessarily learned patterns.

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