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The Origins of Patterned Nervous Discharge

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In sum, sensory input is of decisive importance-in creating the permissive steady state centrally (making the frog want to jump), in directing action adaptively (aiming his jump), and in perfecting details during the action in some cases (probably more in mantid fly catching than in frog jumping). But c e n t r a 1p a t t e r in ng is t h e necessary and often the sufficient condition for determining the main characteristic features of almost all actions, whether stimulus triggered or spontaneous. Recent neurophysiological evidence shows that primary temporal pattern of impulse sequence, as in regular bursts may arise spontaneously within localized pacemaker regions of one single neuron. Or pattern may be formulated between cells by complex combinations of specific connections using the integrative properties of neurons to cause output patterns that are different from but some function of input: thus delays, rates of rise and fall of several kinds of synaptic potentials on the same cell, their spatial spread and summation, facilitation, after-excitation and -inhibition. The primary factor in the special case of rhythmically recurring patterns like locomotion, breathing and heartbeats, is apparently sometimes central automaticity and sometimes phasic input from proprioceptive feedback consequent upon the execution of the preceding phase. The feedback may modify the details of form or frequency even in the cases where it is not necessary to maintain the rhythm. Tonic input may be important in keeping up a central excitatory state without providing essential timing cues. The general conclusion is pluralistic: pattern arises in different ways, but in almost all, the details of temporal and spatial distribution of impulses, as distinct from the triggering, are basically central. When we find peripheral triggering or modulation, we can speak of peripheral determination or influence but hardly of peripheral control of behavior. Nervous systems are not like present day computers even complex ones, but have oscillators and built-in stored patterns; they do not give outputs predictable by their inputs or externally controlled "instructions"

Affiliations: 1: University of California, Los Angeles


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