Central pattern generators

Eve Marder (Brandeis University) Part 1: Introduction to Central Pattern Generators
Jan 17, 2013

In Part 1, Marder introduces us to central pattern generators (CPGs), the circuits in the nervous system that control rhythmic movements such as walking or breathing. She goes on to explain that the stomatogastric nervous system from crustaceans is an excellent model system for studying CPGs, in part, because the connectivity of all the major neurons is known. Using the stomatogastic system, Marder and colleagues have asked how rhythmic circuits are generated and maintained over the life of the animal.

16:10 What generates the rhythm?
– Bursting pacemaker neurons (or oscillators) can drive rhythmic circuit
– Emerge from circuit interactions
+ reciprocal inhibition …

Metaphor: The brain is a computer

What can mathematics teach us about the mind/brain?
Sep 17, 2012
The Helix Center for Interdisciplinary Investigation of the New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute

~11 functionalism

Metaphor: the brain is a kind of computer
computation: information processing

Is the diffusion of a chemical in the brain a computation?
It can be described by a computation.

<23:17 When we get a computation on our computer, if we type anything we get the same response every time.
If you get the same thing every time, you can’t learn. You can’t change. You can’t adapt.
Brain: You don’t get the same thing every time you do something

spontaneous pattern formation

1:15:00 primary sensory cortex: 7,000 synapses per cell
prefrontal cortex: 20,000 synapses per cell
able to generate its own activity in the absence of stimulus
there’s some background activity going on. It has to generate motor plans.

My dreaming sorts out stories for me

Neil Gaiman On Returning To ‘Sandman,’ Talking In His Sleep And The Power Of Comics
December 15, 2015

I think I love my dreaming process because one of the things that my dreaming process does is sort out stories for me.
I will go to sleep stuck on what happens next, I will wake up and somewhere these boys in the back room have been moving heavy furniture around, they’ve been digging, they’ve been painting, they’ve been plastering and they present me with the solution.
If that means I’m going to be a little bit chatty or a little bit weird in my sleep, I will go for it.


when you read everything, you wind up reading short stories or stories that just, you shouldn’t probably have read yet and the kinds of things that gave me nightmares.

The Graveyard Book

Synaptic contacts are lost in hybernation

Neurodegeneration: Cold shock protects the brain
Graham Knott
Nature 518, 177–178 (12 February 2015)

Synaptic contacts are lost in hibernating mammals but reform when temperatures rise.
RBM3 is an RNA-binding cold-shock protein produced in the brain in response to cooling, but its function in synaptic plasticity is unknown. Giovanna Mallucci and colleagues show that impaired synapse regeneration in mouse neurodegenerative disease models is linked to a lack of induction of RMB3. Overexpression of RBM3 can restore the formation of synaptic contacts, while its loss-of-function triggers further defects in regeneration. These findings point to cold-shock proteins as components of endogenous repair processes and as possible therapeutic targets for neuroprotection in neurodegenerative disease.

I began to wake up

Trapped In His Body For 12 Years, A Man Breaks Free
January 09, 2015

“Yes, I was there, not from the very beginning, but about two years into my vegetative state, I began to wake up,” says Martin, now age 39 and living in Harlow, England.

He thinks he began to wake up when he was 14 or 15 years old. “I was aware of everything, just like any normal person,” Martin says.

But although he could see and understand everything, he couldn’t move his body.