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Nervous system structure

Nervous system = central nervous system AND peripheral nervous system

Central nervous system = brain and spinal cord

Peripheral nervous system = autonomic nervous system AND somatic nervous system

Autonomic nervous system = sympathetic (arousing) division AND parasympathetic (calming) division

Somatic nervous system = sensory/afferent nervous system AND motor/efferent system


Autonomic nervous system (ANS)

Communicates with internal organs and glands; controls involuntary responses


Somatic nervous system (SNS)

Communicates with sense organs and voluntary muscles; controls voluntary responses


Sympathetic division of ANS

Arousing; deals with fight or flight responses


Parasympathetic division of ANS

Calming; deals with resting and digestion


Sensory nervous system of SNS

Afferent; sensory input


Motor nervous system of SNS

Efferent; motor output


Brain-Behavior Relationships

Traditional = localization
Contemporary = nodes and networks


Motor control

the process of initiating, directing, and grading purposeful voluntary movement


Motor learning

set of processes associated with practice or experience that lead to a relatively permanent change in the capability for producing skilled action


Motor development

the study of the changes in human motor behavior over the lifespan, the processes that underlie these changes, and the factors that affect them


Theory definition

an idea or set of ideas that is intended to explain facts or events; a set of principles on which the practice of an activity is based


Reflex theory (Charles Sherrington)

If there is a stimulus, it is picked up by a receptor and goes to a motor neuron to create a response

Simple reflexes are combined into greater actions which constitute behavior

Peripheral view of control


Hierarchical theory (Hughlings Jackson)

Each successively "higher" level in the nervous system exerts control over the level below it

Idea that basic reflexes are at the spinal level, more complex at brain stem, most complex in the cortex

Neuromaturational theory of development


Reflex-Hierarchical Theory

Reflexes are one of many ways to generate movements

This theory had many criticisms, however


Feedforward response

you can plan ahead depending on knowing the end goal
EX: taking a wide stance on a bus when you know it might be unsteady


Feedback response

take the system output into consideration, which enables the system to adjust its performance to meet a desired output response
EX: grip a wine glass more while wine is poured into it


Motor program theory (T. Graham Brown, 1911; Richard Schmidt)

Instructions are specified by the CNS, a motor program is specified, parameters are assigned, motor program and assigned parameters initiate and carry out intended actions, involves a central pattern generator (CPG)


Motor program

Abstract representation of a movement plan, stored in memory that contains all the motor commands required to carry out intended action

One does not need a motor program for each skill

A program represents a class of actions


Systems theory (Bernstein)

Recognized importance of force acting on body, control is distributed

Degrees of freedom - controlled by hierarchy: the problem is how do we control so many degrees of freedom

Available movements (sentences): muscles (letters), synergies (words), actions (sentences)


Dynamical action theory (Kelso)

When a system of individual parts comes together, its elements behave collectively in an ordered way

Movement emerges as a result of interacting elements, without the need for specific commands or motor programs

Fundamental principle: Self-organization


Dynamical systems theory

combines systems and dynamical actions theories to solve DOF problem

Distributed control - integration of all systems working together

Muscle synergies - a pattern of coactivation of muscles recruited by a single neural command signal to reduce computational load

Self organization - Movement pattern emerges as a function of a changing "parameter" placed on the learner

Nonlinear behavior - control parameter regulates behavior change, order parameter gives quantitative measures

Variability - variety of preferred patterns is necessary, tendency of body to aim for stable attractor states


Ecological theory (Gibson)

Motor control evolves to cope with the environment

Focus on how actions are geared to the environment

Perception not sensation (EX: Adolf's videos)

Newell's constraints theory - ability to regulate or direct mechanisms essential to movement



understanding, complex thinking and problem solving; the ability to direct and organize behavior



how one views something; recognition and interpretation of sensory information



what you focus on; selectively concentrating on one thing while ignoring other things

Top down (endogenous) vs bottom up (exogenous)



being aware of oneself and one's place in the environment; being awake/reactive to stimuli

2 dimensions: level (arousal/wakefulness) and content (awareness)



4 domains: to time, to person, to place, and to situation



stored information


Cognitive neuroscience

The study of biological substrates underlying cognition, with a specific focus on the neural substrates of mental processes