If you were building a robot, you’d need to build a way to tell it how to move around. Living bodies naturally have systems that tell them how to move around; they are called brains. How brains control bodies is still a mysterious topic, even for a worm. At the next OpenWorm Journal Club, Saul Kato will talk about some exciting new progress in understanding how the activity of the worm’s brain leads to controlling its body.
The activity of nearly all neurons in the C. elegans brain is recorded and analyzed. This experiment demonstrates that we are able to obtain data from the neurons, and provides a representation of the worm as a biological control system. If we were to take one neuron away, how would the system change? Amongst many highlights, the experiments also show that most active neurons are used in coordinated dynamical activity and behave in a cyclical action sequence reminiscent of central pattern generators. Further understanding the connectome behavior serves as an important ground truth for digital simulations.
Relevant paper for the talk is:
Global brain dynamics embed the motor command sequence of Caenorhabditis elegans
Kato, S., Kaplan, H.S., Schrödel T., Skora S., Lindsay T.H., Yemini, E., Lockery, S., Zimmer, M. Cell (2015) doi:10.1016/j.cell.2015.09.034http://www.cell.com/abstract/S0092-8674(15)01196-4