About this book
The focus of this volume differs from what is suggested by the series title, for it is on muscle contraction and movement rather than on behavior. The lone overnight flight of a ruby-throated hummingbird across the Gulf of Mexico is a migratory behavior mediated through an incredibly lengthy, repetitive series of wing move ments, each movement being produced by a complex sequence of muscle contrac tions. It is significant that these same movements may be used to mediate other behaviors, and that these same muscle contractions, in different sequence, may be used to produce other movements. The immense journey of white-bearded gnus across the Serengeti plains to suitable calving grounds is likewise a migratory behavior mediated through rather more varied, yet repetitive, limb movements, each produced by a complex sequence of muscle contractions. Again, these same movements may be used to mediate other behaviors, and again, the details of each limb movement may be varied through variations in the strength and the sequence of muscle contractions. A laboratory rat may learn to perform an escape behavior in a shuttle box, bringing its performance to a high level of efficiency by modifying its movement on successive trials. After intraperitoneal injection of pentobarbital sodium in an amount sufficient to render the animal severely incoordinated, the escape behavior is still performed, albeit through a different sequence of move ments, even to "rolling" out of the compartment in response to the warning signal.
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