This article will present a particular view of pre-rational intelligence as it pertains to pieces of neural circuitry. The subject of this article is the spinal cord. This is only a subsystem within the nervous system, albeit a critical one. Clearly, adaptive and fully intelligent behavior is only the domain of the full organism (see McFarland & Houston 1981; McFarland & Bösser 1994). However, it seems that some measure of ‘intelligent’ function can be ascribed to a neural subsystem. For the purpose of this discussion we will define an intelligent design and intelligent function of neural subsystems as those that minimize the whole organism’s computational load while maximizing the breadth of the system’s output possibilities. The outputs should clearly be of utility to the organism in the context of other neural systems. There is a trade-off between the two competing goals of flexibility and simplicity. We would suggest that optimizing this trade-off in an organism’s various neural subsystems must frequently involve modularity, encapsulation of function and restriction of system structures to designs that support extensibility. Dimensionality reduction at the interface of the subsystem with others is desirable since this reduces computation in other parts of the nervous system. Autonomous computation within neural modules is desirable to support asynchronous activation, concurrence, and extensibility and flexibility of the system.


Spinal Cord Movement Organization Basis Field Delaunay Tesselation Reflex Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Berkinblitt, M.B., I.S. Zharkova, A.G. Feldman, & O.I. Fukson (1984). Biomechan-ical aspects of the wiping reflex cycle. Biophysics 29, 530–535.Google Scholar
  2. Berkinblit, M.B., A.G. Feldman, & O.I. Fookson (1986a). Adaptability of innate motor patterns and motor control mechanisms. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 9, 585–638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Berkinblit, M.B., I.M. Gelfand, & A.G. Feldman (1986b). A model of the aiming phase of the wiping reflex. In S. Grillner, RS.G. Stein, D.G. Stuart, H. Forssberg, & R.M. Herman (eds.), Neurobiology of vertebrate locomotion (pp. 217–227). London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  4. Berkinblitt, M.B., A.G. Feldman, & O.I. Fukson (1989). Wiping reflex in the frog: Movement patterns, receptive fields, and blends. In J.-R Ewert & M.A. Arbib (eds.), Visuomotor coordination: amphibians, comparisons, models, and robots (pp. 615–630). New York: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bizzi, E., N. Hogan, F.A. Mussa-Ivaldi, & S.F. Giszter (1992). Does the nervous system use equilibrium-point control to guide single and multiple joint movements? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 15, 603–613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bizzi, E., F.A. Mussa-Ivaldi, & S.F Giszter (1991). Computations underlying the execution of movement: A biological perspective. Science 253, 287–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fookson, O.I., M.B. Berkinblit, & A.G. Feldman (1980). The spinal frog takes into account the scheme of its body during the wiping reflex. Science 209, 1261–1263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gandolfo, F., & F.A. Mussa-Ivaldi, & E. Bizzi (1996). Motor learning by field approximation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA, 93, 3843–3846.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Giszter, S.F. (1993). Behavior networks and force-fields for simulating spinal reflex behaviors of the frog. Second International Conference on the Simulation of Adaptive Behavior (pp. 172–182). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  10. Giszter, S.F. (1994). Reinforcement tuning of action synthesis and selection in a virtual frog. Third International Conference on the Simulation of Adaptive Behavior (pp. 291–300). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  11. Giszter, S.F., J. Mclntyre, & E. Bizzi (1989. Kinematic strategies and sensorimotor transformations in the wiping movements of frogs. Journal of Neurophysiology 62, 750–767.Google Scholar
  12. Giszter, S.F., F.A. Mussa-Ivaldi, & E. Bizzi (1993). Convergent force fields organized in the frog spinal cord. Journal of Neuroscience 13, 467–491.Google Scholar
  13. Giszter, S.F., W. Kargo, & M.R. Davies (1996). Reflex organization and control of force-field primitives in frog spinal cord. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts 22, 265.5.Google Scholar
  14. Giszter, S.F., W. Kargo, & M.R. Davies (1998a). Augmenting postural primitives in spinal cord: Dynamic force-field structures used in trajectory generation. In J.M. Winters & RE. Crago (eds.), Biomechanics and neural control of movement. Berlin: Springer Verlag (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  15. Giszter, S.F., W. Kargo, & M.R. Davies (1998b). Decomposition of forces and muscle patterns into controlled force-field primitives in the reflex movements of spinal frogs. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts 24, in press.Google Scholar
  16. Kargo, W., M.R. Davies, & S.R Giszter (1997). Patterns of activity of identified proprioceptors during spinal reflex behaviors in the frog. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts 23, 299.12.Google Scholar
  17. Loeb, E., S.R Giszter, P. Borghesani, & E. Bizzi (1993). Effects of dorsal root cut on forces evoked by spinal microstimulation in the spinalized frog. Journal of Somatosensory and Motor Research 10, 81–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Maes, P. (1989). Autonomous agents can have goals. In R Maes (ed.), Designing autonomous agents (pp. 49–70). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  19. Maes, P. (1991). A bottom up mechanism for behavior selection in an artificial creature. In J.-A. Meyer & S.W. Wilson (eds.), From animals to animats: Proceedings of the First International Conference on Simulation of Adaptive Behavior (pp. 238–246). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  20. McFarland, D., & T. Bösser (1993). Intelligent behavior in animals and robots. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  21. McFarland, D., & A. Houston (1981). Quantitative ethology. London: Pitman Books.Google Scholar
  22. Mussa-Ivaldi, F.A., A. Hogan, & E. Bizzi (1985). Neural, mechanical and geometric factors subserving arm posture. Journal for Neurscience 5, 2732–2743.Google Scholar
  23. Mussa-Ivaldi, F.A. (1992). From basis functions to basis fields: Using vector primitives to capture vector patterns. Biological Cybernetics 67,479–489.CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  24. Mussa-Ivaldi, F.A. (1997.) Nonlinear force fields: A distributed system of control primitives for representing and learning movements. Proceedings of the 1997 IEEE International Symposium on Computational Intelligence in Robotics and Automation (pp. 84–90). Monterey, CA.Google Scholar
  25. Mussa-Ivaldi, F.A., & F. Gandolfo (1993). Networks that approximate vector valued mappings. Proceedings of the 1993 IEEE International Conference on Neural Networks (pp. 1973–1978). San Francisco, CA.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mussa-Ivaldi, F.A., & S.R Giszter (1992). Vector field approximation: A computational paradigm for motor control and learning. Biological Cybernetics 67, 491–500.CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  27. Mussa-Ivaldi, F.A., S.F. Giszter, & E. Bizzi (1994). Linear summation of primitives in vertebrate motor control. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA, 91, 7534–7538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ostry, D.J., A.G. Feldman, & R.F. Flanagan (1991). Kinematics and control of frog hindlimb movements. Journal of Neurophysiology 65, 547–562.Google Scholar
  29. Schotland, J.L., W.A. Lee, & W.Z. Rymer (1989). Wipe and flexion withdrawal reflexes display different EMG patterns prior to movement onset. Experimental Brain Research 78, 649–653.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schotland, J.L., & W.Z. Rymer (1993). Wiping and flexion reflexes in the frog: I Kinematics and EMG patterns. Journal of Neurophysiology 69, 1725–1735.Google Scholar
  31. Schotland, J.L., & W.Z. Rymer (1993). Wiping and flexion reflexes in the frog: II Response to perturbations. Journal of Neurophysiology 69, 1736–1748.Google Scholar
  32. Sergio, L., & D.J. Ostry (1993). Three-dimensional kinematic analysis of frog hindlimb movement in reflex wiping. Experimental Brain Research 94, 53–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Shadmehr, R., F.A. Mussa-Ivaldi, & E. Bizzi (1993). Postural force fields of the human arm and their role in generating multijoint movements. Journal of Neur-science 13, 45–62.Google Scholar
  34. Stein, P.S.G., L.I. Mortin, & G.A. Robertson (1986). The forms of a task and their blends. In S. Grillner, P.S.G. Stein, D.G. Stuart, H. Forssberg, & R.M. Herman (eds.), Neurobiology of vertebrate locomotion (pp. 201–216). London: Macmillan.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon Giszter
    • 1
  • William Kargo
    • 1
  1. 1.Medical College of PennsylvaniaHahnemann UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations