Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 14 (2) (1993)
Recent neurophysiological observations are giving rise to the expectation that in the near future genuine biological experiments may contribute more than will premature speculations to the understanding of global and cognitive functions. The classical reflex principle — as the basis of neural functions — has to yield to new ideas, like autopoiesis and/or self-organization, as the basic paradigm in the framework of which the essence of the neural can be better understood. Neural activity starts in the very earliest stages of development well before receptors and afferent input become functional. Under suitable conditions, both in nervous tissue cultures and in embryonic tissue recombination experiments, the conditions of such initial autopoietic activity can be studied. This paper tries to generalize this elementary concept for various neural centers, notably for the spinal segmental apparatus and the cerebral cortex.
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