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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 1997 Dec;7(6):781-9.

Pattern generation.

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Department of Biology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093, USA.


Central pattern generators are neuronal ensembles capable of producing the basic spatiotemporal patterns underlying 'automatic' movements (e.g. locomotion, respiration, swallowing and defense reactions), in the absence of peripheral feedback. Different experimental approaches, from classical electrophysiological and pharmacological methods to molecular and genetic ones, have been used to understand the cellular and synaptic bases of central pattern generator organization and reconfiguration of generator operation in behaviorally relevant contexts. Recently, it has been shown that the high reliability and flexibility of central pattern generators is determined by their redundant organization. Everything that is crucial for generator operation is determined by a number of complementary mechanisms acting in concert; however, various mechanisms are weighted differently in determining different aspects of central pattern generator operation.

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