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meroberts's picture

Central Pattern Generation and Evolution

It makes sense to me that there is a set pattern, or a central pattern generator, hidden somewhere in the cavernous recesses of the brain to ensure that an individual/animal will be able to survive on their own. Has everyone seen the movie, Bambi? The plot of the movie is that a young deer has to survive in the wild alone (or with the help of his other animal friends) after his mother is shot by hunters.

So Bambi was only able to survive because of these central pattern generators. He has no adult deer model to teach him how to survive in the wild, he only has these innate patterns that allow him to survive. There's a scene in the movie where Bambi learns to walk. His knobby knees buckle under his own weight as his muscles become strong enough to support himself. But he does stand on his own and take some staggering steps. Eventually, he becomes quite adept at walking and running because he HAS to be in order to stay alive.

So central pattern generation is integral to evolution. If a baby was born who couldn't breathe on its own due to the absence of the "pattern" for the respiratory muscles to follow, the baby would die without heroic efforts/life support on the part of the medical team. In order to live and pass on your own genes, these musculo-skeletal patterns must be present. If central pattern generation were not integral to evolution, these patterns would not be present and observable across organisms today.

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