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The role of the nervous system in behaviour Introduction The nervous system is the fundamental control system for all behaviour It is responsible for receiving incoming information from the surroundings collating and processing it and then causing a relevant behavioural response For an animal to survive it must be able to respond differing internal as well as external states and parts of the body must be able to act in a co-ordinated fashion to illicit behaviours that are favourable to the animal species The nervous system acts together with the endocrine system to initiate co-ordinated responses via the muscles and glands Nerves The way animal behaviour is brought about depends on precisely co-ordinated performance from many different cells The most important of these in the nervous system are neurons Fig 1 these communicate information using a combination of electrical and chemical signalling methods These cells are specialised for transmitting information to one another and although they vary greatly in size and shape neurons typically have a cell body responsible for maintaining the metabolic functionality of the cell which has several processes extending from it These processes are the dendrites and the axons and are responsible for receiving signals from other cells and carrying them away from the soma to be transmitted to other cells respectively Hence the neurons is the component unit of the nervous system responsible for the transmission of signals which inform control mediate and effect behaviour Neuronal Connections The network that underlies a particular behaviour is reliant on subcircuits which have properties that effect the way the whole network operates Sensory filter networks transmit only certain features of complex sensory input while blocking out other features Central pattern-generating networks produce a pattern of motor output that consistently generates stereotyped movements Some of these operate on a cyclic fashion such as breathing and locomotion behaviours Others are non
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