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BeccaB-C's picture

Reflexes

In talking about inputs, outputs, interneurons and the brain=behavior idea in class, we mentioned homeostasis behaviors, such as the intake of air to the lungs, pumping blood through ventricles and arteries, etc. These are behaviors that come about in response to inputs of which we are unconscious.

In the human visual system, there are two fairly separate pathways by which information in the visual field reaches our consciousness. 90% of visual information travels along the geniculostriate pathway, synapsing on the lateral geniculat nucleus before ending in the striate cortex (the primary visual part of the cortex). Because information reaches the visual cortex, this is what we see consciously--we are aware of it because it has reached the cortex. The other 10% of our visual information comes by way of the tectopulvinar pathway, synapsing on the pulvinar nucleus and then the thalamus. It never reaches the cortex. This allows for some patients to experience "cortical blindness;" patients with damage to the visual cortex but not the tectopulvinar pathway are completely blind as far as visual information of which they are conscious, but when something moves within their visual field, they are still able to react to a movement, without being conscious of having seen it.

Relating this to class, where do reflexive behaviors and conscious responses (outputs) to unconscious inputs fit in to the box model? At what point within the spaghetti web of interneurons does information go from unconscious to cortexual and conscious? How does this play into the brain=behavior question? I would think that it is very good evidence for brain=behavior because it provides a conscious, neural response in the form of behavior to something which, without the complex workings of the brain and neural pathways, would not warrant such a behavioral, albeit reflexive, response.

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