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ependently, the researchers found that in certain instances, like longitudinal contractions, both layers o
f muscle are active, possibly allowing the animal to expel the influx of water that is constantly flowing into its cells.
Each individual cell also appeared to serve more than one function, and participate in more than one activation pattern. In
fact, the nerve nets appear to play a relatively limited role in movement. Neurons may initially trigger the a
ctivity, but the patterns of propagation are organized by the muscle cells themselves working in unison.
“The patterns of activation we identified were not implement
ed by specific, dedicated cells, but instead depended on the properties of the muscle tissue as a wh
ole, and the interconnections between cells,” said first author John Szymanski, a former MBL Whitman Center investigator.