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cschoonover's picture


 Towards the end of class we concluded that the nervous system consists of a bunch of interacting parts with no one in charge, meaning it is a fundamentally distributive system. At first it seemed odd to me that a complicated system could produce such sophisticated behavior without a conductor, without someone to report to. However, after going back to the examples used in class, it’s starting to make more sense and it even seems like an advantage to work this way. Without a central commander, different parts of the nervous system can be doing different things. A simplification of this is evident in the ability to rub your head and pat your stomach at the same time. I think a more complicated example and manifestation of this is our ability to multitask. Thus it makes sense that there is not just one but many central pattern generators and that the coordination of individual central pattern generators results in a particular pattern (i.e. movement). I found it extremely interesting and exciting that the communication between the ganglia is responsible for the coordination of central pattern generators. And that changes within this communication are responsible for changes in the generated patterns.

Following this train of thought, I wonder if severe enough changes to the nervous system can alter the central pattern generators. For instance, someone who is deaf and has never heard another person speak is unable to articulate sounds that are produced by the linguistic majority. However, they can still produce sounds that have the potential to be understood. This is the result of a lack of sensory input, but does it extend beyond this? If the central pattern generator is still functional, is it deactivated? Or if it is still activated, is there a component related to the reafferent loop?

I think these ideas are very helpful, but I still think we need more to fully understand what is going on and how behavior is manifested from the patterns generated by neurons.


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