, Volume 185, Issue 4, pp 291-295

Neuroethology has pregnant agendas

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Abstract

Two of the many agendas of neuroethology are illustrated with examples. The first issue is what cells or assemblies of cells and what patterns of activity are sufficient to accomplish recognition of ethologically important stimulus configurations and initiation of behavioral action. The theme is the opportunities available in relatively neglected approaches to these objectives. As an example, the approach is developed of gentle microstimulation of loci in the brain where cells have been found to be responsive to complex, natural stimuli, under conditions conducive to the performance of tell-tale behavior. Other approaches include: (a) microinjection of modulatory substances into regions with such complex recognition cells, and (b) recording in efficient and informative ways, by using multiple electrode arrays, registering wideband activity, in behaving animals. The second issue is what brain and behavior differences has evolution produced between major taxa at distinct grades of complexity. Emphasized are our relative ignorance of basic aspects of connectivity, physiology and cognitive capacities in the major grades and the probability of surprises from new studies that employ comparison.

Accepted: 29 January 1999