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Jeanette Bates's picture

Loosing CPGs?

            I think that the connection between central pattern generation and learning is very interesting. As we discussed in class, there are some things that require learning and will later establish their own central pattern generations. For example, someone would have to learn piano, and after sometime, they would develop a muscle memory for the songs that they play. They wouldn’t even have to think about them. This means that they now have a central pattern generation for playing those songs. The thing I’m curious about is the “unlearning” of this muscle memory; is it possible to get rid of central pattern generations? Based on my own experience, I would think that it is. I took piano for several years; I would say that I was even pretty good at it. I quit it in 10th grade, but a few years later, I tried to sit down and play it again (without touching it since that period). I could only play simple melodies. This makes me think that I could have lost the central pattern generation for it, or at least for anything complex. However, there is a part of me that thinks, perhaps, it is not that I lost it, but that it is weakened. I don’t know if it’s possible to weaken a central pattern generator or not, but I do know that I could still play the piano after several years of not playing it, even if not well, and if I tried to learn the songs that I knew before, they came much more easily than they did the first time. I think that it’s possible that the connections could still be there even when they aren’t being utilized-they just might be weakened. Practicing again could help strengthen them again. But I still have to wonder, is it possible to loose central pattern generators in ways that don't involve massive brain damage? Is it possible to weaken them?  And if so, how and why would this happen? Would there actually be an advantage to getting rid of some of these “motor symphonies?” 

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