Neuromodulation and flexibility in Central Pattern Generator networks

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2011 Oct;21(5):685-92. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2011.05.011. Epub 2011 Jun 7.


Central Pattern Generator (CPG) networks, which organize rhythmic movements, have long served as models for neural network organization. Modulatory inputs are essential components of CPG function: neuromodulators set the parameters of CPG neurons and synapses to render the networks functional. Each modulator acts on the network by many effects which may oppose one another; this may serve to stabilize the modulated state. Neuromodulators also determine the active neuronal composition in the CPG, which varies with state changes such as locomotor speed. The pattern of gene expression which determines the electrophysiological personality of each CPG neuron is also under modulatory control. It is not possible to model the function of neural networks without including the actions of neuromodulators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / physiology
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Motor Neurons / drug effects
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / drug effects
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / pharmacology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology*
  • Periodicity*


  • Ion Channels
  • Neurotransmitter Agents