Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Reply to comment

Holly Stewart's picture

Intrinsic Harmony

It still somewhat boggles my mind there are these central pattern generators that act the way they do. I was thinking about the swimmerets as well as our own human function and I am still trying to work it all out.

I enjoy the idea of thinking of our system as a symphony; and I don’t even mind that there is not one specific central conductor of the symphony. But what is still confusing me is the fact that although everyone is playing different scores of music, everything is flowing perfectly together. The first chair violin player is not only playing independently, but also communicating via distant hand signals across the pit with the obo first chair and is still able to explain exactly what is going on. The system is maintaining intrinsic harmony. For me, this is my new definition for homeostasis.

This lack of control is still a bit mind-boggling to me. I am not satisfied to think the system is only communicating via nervous and endocrine signals – there must be more to it than that. How is it that the swimmerets are able to not only work together but able to work independently? Why is it that we seem to have such difficulty in locating a central pattern generator? Are the outputs of central pattern generators weighed? This last question seems quite pertinent for expanding on what we already know. If central pattern generators are everywhere throughout the system, and they are constantly communicating then things are definitely getting busy! But do these central pattern generators able to assess the validity of what the other central pattern generators are saying? An example: the swimmerets are moving in a specific pattern, yet this doesn’t mean the lobster is unable to move its antennae. So how do the central pattern generators communicate? How do they evaluate the importance of what another central pattern generator is doing? I have so many more questions!

I recognize these central pattern generators help to support the I-Function box, but I am still a bit unconvinced. These systems are all about communication, yet I don’t see the kind of communication coming out of the I-Function Box that I would expect. Could the I-Function Box be a central pattern generator itself? I think it may in fact be. It dictates control over a specific system, yet remains in communication with all other systems. Maybe the I-Function Box is the central pattern generator for the brain. I still have more thinking to do about all this…


To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
13 + 4 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.