Do jellyfish have central nervous systems?

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The traditional view of the cnidarian nervous system is of a diffuse nerve net that functions as both a conducting and an integrating system; this is considered an indicator of a primitive condition. Yet, in medusoid members, varying degrees of nerve net compression and neuronal condensation into ganglion-like structures represent more centralized integrating centers. In some jellyfish, this relegates nerve nets to motor distribution systems. The neuronal condensation follows a precept of neuronal organization of higher animals with a relatively close association with the development and elaboration of sensory structures. Nerve nets still represent an efficient system for diffuse, non-directional activation of broad, two-dimensional effector sheets, as required by the radial, non-cephalized body construction. However, in most jellyfish, an argument can be made for the presence of centralized nervous systems that interact with the more diffuse nerve nets. © 2011. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.




Satterlie, R. A. (2011, April). Do jellyfish have central nervous systems? Journal of Experimental Biology.

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