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Saba Ashraf's picture

Central Pattern Generators/Functions and Nervous System

            The correlation we talked about during class between functions and removing a part of the nervous system was very interesting because it is an idea that is misunderstood by many. Usually, we assume that we can locate a function by showing the function is nonexistent when part of the nervous system is removed. This seems to make sense at first, but we don’t actually know all the parts of the nervous system that account for this function using this method. Basically, we can’t conclude right away that the part nervous system that is removed is the only thing needed for the function. However, the opposite appears to be true because if the function exists when part of the nervous system is removed, then we know for a fact is it not needed for that function to persist. 

The concept of the central pattern generation and the bird example used in class was also very amusing. Initially, I was certain that the removal of the straightjackets on the birds would prompt the birds with these jackets on to fall directly on the ground.   The fact that they were still able to fly was surprising because birds and even humans spend so much time trying to learn how to fly or walk, so you would expect those with the experience to have an upper hand in flying/walking.  Another surprising idea was that both types of birds, those with and without straightjackets, were able to fly at relatively the same time despite the lack of experience in some of birds because of the presence of a central pattern generator. I wonder if this would be true for humans or if humans without the experience of trying to walk would walk much later than those with the experience. The idea of acquiring a new central pattern generator that is not in the I-function such as playing an instrument was somewhat relatable because I used to play the violin at a younger age. Because I haven’t played in many years, I don’t remember whether I would think about the movement of my fingers while playing. However, it seems very reasonable that many can’t play as well when they are actually thinking about the action since the central pattern generator is not included in the I-function.    

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