Behavioral hierarchies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Tinbergen pointed out that the singleness of behavioral expression and the transitions among behaviors suggested active inhibition by a dominant behavior of subordinates. This implicit neural hypothesis has been investigated in several model systems. In no instance was choice found to be mediated by direct inhibition of one central pattern generator by another, nor through inhibition of command neurons by extrinsic inputs. Rather, changing behavioral expression was based on reconfiguring the underlying neuronal networks for alternative outputs by changing inputs from internal and external sources. Thus, where known, behavioral hierarchies and their plasticity are based on the abilities of neuronal networks to transit among multiple, metastable states of coordination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Neuroscience
PublisherElsevier Ltd
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9780080450469
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Aplysia
  • Central pattern generator
  • Choice
  • Command neuron
  • Cost-benefit
  • Decision
  • Hirudo
  • Leech
  • Lymnaea
  • Multifunctional network
  • Pleurobranchaea
  • Tinbergen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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