In Search of a Unified Theory of Biological Organization: What Does the Motor System of a Sea Slug Tell Us About Human Motor Integration?
Rept. for 15 Jan 89-14 Jan 92,
OREGON STATE UNIV NEWPORT HATFIELD MARINE SCIENCE CENTER
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We summarize the behavioral, electrophysiological, and immunohistochemical findings in the sea slug, Pleurobranchaea, and compare these finding to those obtained in other invertebrate animals, in higher animals, and in humans. The findings show that there is massive distribution and sharing of information occurring, respectively, through diverging and converging network connections. We examine the findings of reductionist approaches and find them inadequate to answer the problems arising from such widely distributed, multifunctional, and highly converging networks whose activity may be variable. Such findings indicate that cooperative actions among groups of neurons may arise dynamically and nonlinearly in shifting contexts or consensuses of response in which individual neurons may have different functions, even during times when the behaviors are similar. Control of these systems is emergent, fuzzy, and error-prone rather than being reflexive or following explicit causes and effects that can be read from the switchboard circuit of the connections between neurons. A unified theoretical perspective is needed that accounts for both the emergent and switch-board systems. Two problems apply in both cases First, animals may have evolved highly specialized behaviors whose underlying neural networks may not necessarily reflect generally applicable principles. Second, owing to their complexity, it may not be possible to characterize biological networks in sufficient detail to permit an understanding of the system through simulation of the system itself. Parallel processing, attractors, learning, chaos, bifurcation immunohistochemistry, neurotransmitters, neural networks.
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Computer Programming and Software