Classically, information processing in the brain involves fast signaling mechanisms at a vast number of discrete sites, via spike-dependent neurotransmitter release at synapses. However, neurons also use a huge diversity of slower analog signaling mechanisms, these chemical signaling pathways, acting in a more global spatial scale and on a longer temporal scale, are closely related to social behaviors and emotion. How do these parallel signaling systems interact to give rise to coherent behavioral consequences? In this review, we consider the role of the neuropeptide oxytocin in the milk-ejection reflex as an example of how a complex neural network involving a peptidergic signaling pathway underlies the complex physiological behavior.
- Emergent bursting