Neuromodulation of central pattern generators and its role in the functional recovery of central pattern generator activity
Neuromodulators play an important role in how the nervous system organizes activity that results in behavior. Disruption of the normal patterns of neuromodulatory release or production is known to be related to the onset of severe pathologies such as Parkinson’s disease, Rett syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, and affective disorders. Some of these pathologies involve neuronal structures that are called central pattern generators (CPGs), which are involved in the production of rhythmic activities throughout the nervous system. Here I discuss the interplay between CPGs and neuromodulatory activity, with particular emphasis on the potential role of neuromodulators in the recovery of disrupted neuronal activity. I refer to invertebrate and vertebrate model systems and some of the lessons we have learned from research on these systems and propose a few avenues for future research. I make one suggestion that may guide future research in the field: neuromodulators restrict the parameter landscape in which CPG components operate, and the removal of neuromodulators may enable a perturbed CPG in finding a new set of parameter values that can allow it to regain normal function.