Undergraduate Neuroscience Major

Behavioral Control Systems: CBNS/PSYC 127

Muybridge pyloricGo For It

Behavioral Control Systems - CBNS/PSYC 127

Lecture:  TR, 11:10 am - 12:30 pm, 4 cr.
Prof. Scott Currie, Office: Spieth 2380, Tel: 827-2411
Go to Scott Currie's Neuroscience Faculty page
Office hours: S.C. -  T 3:00- 5:00 pm

T.A.:  Tyler Bailey

There is no textbook. Instead, there are Readings available under "Course Materials" on iLearn.

"Swiftly the head-mass becomes an enchanted loom where millions of flashing shuttles weave a dissolving pattern, always a meaningful pattern though never an abiding one; a shifting harmony of sub-patterns. Now as the waking body rouses, subpatterns of this great harmony of activity stretch down into the unlit tracks of the stalk-piece of the scheme. Strings of flashing and travelling sparks engage the lengths of it. This means that the body is up and rises to meet its waking day."

- Sir Charles Sherrington, Man On His Nature, The Gifford Lectures, 1941 (1st edition), pg. 225.


"Have you allowed yourself to wonder lately?  There are certain dividends from dwelling now and then on the incredible achievements of the nervous system.  Is a sonnet the most adequate stimulus for you?  Or a piano concerto?  Among infra-human forms, is the circling hawk, or the bat flying in the woods, or the contemplation of 1010 neurons each receiving ordered arrays of impulses from many others, the most adequate stimulus to excite your sense of wonder?  I would like to lift up several conclusions from such contemplation.  For one, we cannot wait for a stepwise unravelling, up from the molecule; simultaneous attack on all levels is called for.  More than anywhere else, we can expect emergents in neurobiology - new principles of operation that cannot be predicted from our incomplete knowledge of lower levels.  If greater complexity, more levels and more intricate achievements are likely to conceal new basic principles of system function, there should be more basic discoveries awaiting the explorer of the behaviour machinery than in any other field of knowledge."

- Theodore Bullock, Strategies for blind physiologists with elephantine problems, S.E.B. Symposia, 1966, v.20.


The Brain is just the weight of God—
For—Heft them—Pound for Pound—
And they will differ—if they do—
As Syllable from Sound—

 - Emily Dickinson (1830–86)


"Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. The mind receives a myriad impressions — trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel. From all sides they come, an incessant shower of innumerable atoms …  Let us record the atoms as they fall upon the mind in the order in which they fall, let us trace the pattern, however disconnected and incoherent in appearance."

- Virginia Woolf, Modern fiction. In: The Common Reader, First Series. London: Hogarth Press; 1957 [1925]. p. 189-90.


“No, I'm not interested in developing a powerful brain. All I'm after is just a mediocre brain, something like the President of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company.”

- Alan Turing, British mathematician, WWII code-breaker and founder of computer science, 1943.  Turing was eating lunch in the ATT Bell Labs cafeteria in New York, seated amongst ATT junior executives, when he made this loud pronouncement (from Alan Turing: The Enigma, by Andrew Hodges).


Behold the mighty Dinosaur,
Famous in prehistoric lore,
Not only for his weight and strength
But for his intellectual length.
You will observe by these remains
The creature had two sets of brains--
One in his head (the usual place),
The other at his spinal base.
Thus he could reason a priori
As well as a posteriori.

- Bert Taylor, Chicago Tribune, 1903


 "Tell me where is Fancy bred,

Or in the heart or in the head?

How begot, how nourishèd?

Reply, reply.

It is engender'd in the eyes,

With gazing fed; and Fancy dies

In the cradle where it lies."

- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene 2.


Quizzes        (20%, weekly in Discussion, beginning on the 1st week)
Neuronify homework  (10%, neural network simulation)
Midterm     (30%, covering weeks 1-5 lectures & readings #1 - 9) 
Final Exam (40%, cumulative)


Neuroethology of Motor Systems: goals and experimental strategies

Command Neurons and Command Systems
  -   Mauthner neurons and Startle Behavior in Zebrafish M cellsFish

Web Links:
  -  Theodore Bullock - The Goals of Neuroethology (1990) (PDF file download)
  -  Theodore Bullock biography

Readings #1, 2


ana fishCommand Neurons and Command Systems (cont')
Mauthner neurons and Startle Behavior in Fish
Command Systems for locomotion
Web Links: 
- Joe Fetcho's zebrafish lab
- Ken Catania lab
- Sten Grillner - Neural networks for vertebrate locomotion (PDF file download)
- Zebrafish Mauthner cells & startle behavior (from Dr. Joe Fetcho's lab)

Readings #2, 3


bonesSpinal Cord Reflexes and Motor Patterns

Web Links:
Spinal motor structures
Sir Charles Sherrington - Nobel Lecture, 1932
-  Muybridge horses around with motion pictures

Reading #4


Central Pattern Generators (CPGs) 
-  Locust flight and the modern CPG conceptLocust flight slo mo - Phred Petersen
-  “Building blocks” of pattern generating networks
-   Clione swimming: a simple CPG 

Web Links:  
-  Don Wilson biography
-  Don Wilson poster - SfN 2010
Yuri ArshavskyClione limacina
Richard Satterlie
-  Neuronify: an Educational Simulator for Neural Circuits

- Clione swimming (2.66 MB)

Readings #5, 6


Neuromodulation of multifunctional networks 

-  the crustacean stomatogastric (STG) nervous system 
Web Links:

Dan Hartline's STG web page
H.-G. Heinzel's STG web page
Rutgers STG Lab
Allen Selverston STG page on Scholarpedia

Readings #7, 8


lampreySimple vertebrate model systems for locomotion

-  frog embryo (tadpole) & lamprey

Web Links: Xenopus embryo
- Alan Roberts - Xenopus tadpole research
Laboratoire de Rejean Dubuc
Sten Grillner - Neural networks for vertebrate (lamprey) locomotion (PDF file download)
Swimming of rubber lamprey model ("Twiddle-lamprey")

Reading #9

May 8 [Midterm Exam, Tuesday May 8]  


Life Neural NetArtificial neural networks and computer simulation
Web Links: 

-  The TinkerToy computer
-  McCulloch and Pitts (1943) A logical calculus of the ideas immanent in nervous activity
-  Alan Turing's neural networks of 1948
-  Alan Turing homepage (by Andrew Hodges)
- Sejnowski computational neuro lab (UCSD)

Reading #10


Development of Behavior Niko Tinbergen
-  innate development (fixed action patterns, chick limb movements)
Web Links: 
Konrad Lorenz & Niko Tinbergen
Viktor Hamburger obituary 2001 (by Dale Purves) 

Egg rolling "fixed action pattern" in goose
Chick hatching

Reading #11


sonogramDevelopment of Behavior (continued)
-  innate development (chick limb movements, continued)
-  experience-mediated development (imprinting)
-  mixed innate / experience-mediated development (birdsong)
Web Links:
BirdSongs webpage
Download Raven sound-analysis software

Reading #11


Cortical control of voluntary movement
-  descending pathways 
-  cortical "neuronal population vectors" 
3D vector

Web Links:
  Apostolos Georgopoulos' Lab
The little man inside your brain (NPR radio)

Reading #12


Motor skill learning and "automaticity" Dudley Moore at C
-  How do memorized skilled movements become automatic? 

Web Links: 
-  Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore at the piano (from "The Body in Question", episode 11)
- Cortical and basal ganglia contributions (Ashby et al., 2010)

Reading #13


The emerging hybrid brain-machine technology  

Web Links:
Mind over matter steampunk brain

John Chapin's Lab
Miguel Nicolelis' Lab
Andrew Schwartz's Lab
BrainGate gives paralysed the power of mind control
Looking through cats' eyes


Reading #14

June 15

[Final Exam, Friday June 15, 11:30 am - 2:30 pm]  

CBNS/PSYC 127 Reading List:

(Available to enrolled students on the iLearn course website.)

1.  Young, D.  (1989)  Introduction, Ch. 1 and Nerve Cells, Ch. 2.  In: Nerve Cells and Animal Behaviour. Cambridge Univ. Press, New York, NY.

2.  Young, D.  (1989)  Startle Behaviour, Ch. 6., pp. 125-6, 143-55.  In: Nerve Cells and Animal Behaviour. Cambridge Univ. Press, New York, NY.

3.  Pearson, K.G.  (1976)  The control of walking.  Sci. Am. 235 (6): 72-87.

4.  Kandel, E.R., Schwartz, J.H. and Jessell, T.M.  (1995)  Spinal reflexes, Ch. 28.  In: Essentials of Neural Science and Behavior.  Appleton and Lange, Norwalk, CT.

5.   Wilson, D.M.  (1968)  The flight-control system of the locust. Scientific Amer. 218(5): 83-90.  -and-  Delcomyn, F.  (1980)  Neural basis of rhythmic behavior in animals.  Science 210: 492-498.

6.  Getting, P.A.  (1985)  Hypotheses for mechanisms of pattern generation derived from studies of small systems.  In: Motor Control: From Movement Trajectories to Neural Mechanisms.  1985 Short Course 2 Syllabus.  Paul S.G. Stein, Organizer.  Soc. for Neuroscience, Washington, pp. 67-80.

7.  Levitan, I.B. and Kaczmarek, L.K.  (1991)  Neural networks and behavior, Ch. 16.  In: The Neuron, Oxford Univ. Press, New York, NY.

8.  Harris-Warrick, R.M. and Flamm, R.E.  (1986)  Chemical modulation of a small central pattern generator circuit.  Trends Neurosci. 9: 432-437. -and-  Simmers, J., Meyrand, P. and Moulins, M.  (1995)  Dynamic Networks of Neurons.  American Scientist 83(3): 262-268.

9.  Zupanc, G.K.H.  (2004)  Neuronal control of motor output: swimming in toad tadpoles, Ch. 5.  In: Behavioral Neurobiology: An Integrative Approach, Oxford Univ. Press, New York, NY.   -and-  Grillner, S. (2003) The motor infrastructure: From ion channels to neuronal networks. Nature Reviews: Neuroscience 4: 573-586.

10.  Perkel, D.H.  (1988)  Logical neurons: the enigmatic legacy of Warren McCulloch. TINS 11: 9-12.  -and-  Kandel, E.R., Schwartz, J.H. and Jessell, T.M.  (1995)  Cognitive functions can now be simulated by artificial neural networks that employ parallel distributed processing, Ch. 19. In: Essentials of Neural Science and Behavior.  Appleton and Lange, Norwalk, CT, pp. 359-363.

11.  Purves, D. and Lichtman, J.T.  (1985)  The development of behavior,  Ch. 14.  In: Principles of Neural Development.  Sinauer Assoc., New York, NY.

12.  Ghez, C.  (1991)  Voluntary movment, Ch. 40.  In: Principles of Neural Science, 3rd Edition (E.R. Kandel, J.H. Schwartz, and T.M. Jessell, eds.) Elsevier, New York, NY, pp. 609-625. -and- printouts of 2 websites: Mind over matter, and Dr. John Chapin's Lab.

13.  Ungerleider, L.G., Doyon, J. and Karni, A. (2002) Imaging brain plasticity during motor skill learning. Neurobiol. Learning Mem. 78: 553-564.  -and-  Noam, N.E. and Ahissar, E. (2009) New tricks and old spines. (Commentary) Nature 462: 859-861.  

14.  Cobb, K. (2005) The dawn of brain-machine interfaces. Biomedical Computation Review (Fall issue) 1(2): 14-21.  -and-  Harris, P. (2011) BrainGate gives paralyzed the power of mind control. Guardian.co.uk / TheObserver, April 17, 2011.  -and-  Fetz, E.E. (1999) Real-time control of a robotic arm by neuronal ensembles. Nature Neuroscience (News and Views) 2(7): 583-584.  -and-  Whitehouse, D. (1999) Looking through cats' eyes. BBC News online. news.bbc.co.uk, October 11, 1999 (including 1st page of Yang Dan's Journal of Neuroscience article).

Miscellaneous Additional Resources For Those Interested:


Other Web Sites of Interest


Journal of Neurophysiology
Journal of Neuroscience
Nature Neuroscience

Neuroscience on Public Radio

The Infinite Mind


Targeted Muscle Reinnervation Patients Have Greater Control of Prosthetic Arms (2009)
Monkeys think, moving artificial arm as own (New York Times, 2008)
Biomimetic devices: Joseph Ayers at TEDxBerkshires
Biomimetic Underwater Robot Program
Washington Post article on biomimetic robots
Facing a remote control future? (BBC News)
Thinking and typing (BBC News)
Communicating with thought power (BBC News)
Looking through cats' eyes (BBC News)
i-Limb Bionic Hand



   International Society for Neuroethology (ISN)
   ISN Youtube Channel
  Neuroethology Links

Mauthner cells and startle behavior

   Robert Eaton
   Joseph Fetcho
   Steven Zottoli
   Ken Catania

Spinal Reflexes and Motor Patterns

   Sten Grillner
   Charles Sherrington

Clione swimming

    Yuri Arshavsky
   Richard Satterlie

Crustacean Stomatogastric (STG) system

   Stomatogastric Research Groups
Hans-Georg Heinzel 
Paul Katz
Eve Marder
   Allen Selverston 

Simple vertebrate model systems (tadpole & lamprey)

   Alan Roberts - Xenopus tadpole research
   Rejean Dubuc - Lamprey research
   Sten Grillner et al. - Lamprey research
   James Buchanan - Lamprey research

Lorenz vonHoistConnectionist and Realistic Artificial Neural Networks

   Alan Turing homepage (by Andrew Hodges)
   AlanTuring .net (by Jack Copeland)
   Warren McCulloch (by Jerry Lettvin)
   Walter Pitts (by Jerry Lettvin)
   Terrence Sejnowski
   NEURONIFY (download)

Development of Behavior

   Anne Bekoff
   Fernando Nottebohm
   Peter Marler
   Gabriel Horn

Cortical Control of Voluntary Movement

   Apostolos Georgopoulos [cortical neuronal population vectors] 

Hybrid brain-machine (Neuroprosthetics) technology

   John Chapin [rat brain-machine interface] 
   Miguel Nicolelis [primate brain-machine interface
   Andrew Schwartz [primate brain-machine interface]
   John Donoghue [Human BrainGate system]


Recommended Books

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Career OpportunitiesUCR Libraries
Campus StatusDirections to UCR

Program Information

Cell Biology and Neuroscience
1001 Batchelor Hall

Ph.D. Program in Neuroscience
Tel: (951) 827-4716
Toll Free (800) 735-0717
E-mail: neuro@mail.ucr.edu