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Jennifer Schaefer, Biology


Throughout neuroscience, many model organisms are used to characterize human neurological systems. The reason for the use of model organisms is both the immense complexity of the human nervous system, and the ethical roadblocks of performing proper scientific research on a human functioning human subject. Some of the model organisms which are commonly used by neuroscientists are Drosophila melanogaster, Crab STG, and C. elegans. All of these organisms contain a relatively simple nervous system, but still contain enough similarities to provide us with valuable data that could pertain to our own nervous systems. In basic nervous systems, the effect of central pattern generators (CPGs) is very prevalent. CPGs are formed through a compact, direct neural circuit, allowing for the nervous system to subconsciously perform rudimentary movements. While there is speculation over whether or not humans have CPGs, we see concrete evidence among other species, such as cats and Drosophila larvae. The fact that these condensed neural circuits can control movement usually attributed to voluntary control is also supported by the fact that a requirement of CPGs is to have a rhythmic pattern that allows for a general resetting of the system to initial conditions. The research conducted here pertains to the interneurons of larval motor muscles, as we are identifying which interneurons are essential for the crawling mechanism.