Mapping Neural Activation onto Behavior in an Entire Animal

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Science  25 Apr 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6182, pp. 372-373
DOI: 10.1126/science.1253853

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For almost a century, neuroscientists have tried to understand how patterns of neuronal activity generate behavior. Many of the early studies turned to the “simple” systems of invertebrates in the hope of discovering the components of circuits and their connections. A striking finding was the existence of “command neurons” in arthropods and molluscs that produce complex and coordinated movements when stimulated (1, 2). The challenge was then to identify the connections between these neurons and other neurons important for those behaviors. This approach was always limited to examining only a few neurons from the tens or hundreds of thousands in the animal (3). On page 386 of this issue, Vogelstein et al. (4) usher in a new era of integrated methods for deciphering how an entire nervous system generates behavior.