Thanks everybody for the information and references. I am writing a
book a part of which will convey the "mechanicalness" of a simple
nervous system. I wanted the part to be solid and compelling. That's
why the need for authoritative references. Additionally it would be
great for some readable references for readers who wanted more
The Aplysia californica is indeed the animal to use. Still, after
going through several books ("From Neuron to Brain", 3rd ed, Nicholls
et al,"Neuron Networks and Motor Behavior" by Kupfermann et al,
"Spikes" - just for some of the introduction - by Rieke et al) I am
surprised at how complex the subject is even for this most simple and
well-known animal. Yet it is better to know the truth - I will need to
change slightly the direction of the section in the book. (I have to
admit that my awe of the living part of the universe increases the
more I dig into this material - it is one thing to know something in
general terms but quite another to see it in concrete details - and to
realize that this sort of thing is all around us - indeed in us.).
There was a lot of information in your responses and again I want to
thank you. Wilms' point that any neuroscience text will have plenty of
info was helpful since Kandel's book seems completely unobtainable.
Wilms' phrase "many behavioural aspects" indicated that even with this
most well-know animal not all behaviors have been mapped to certain
groups of neurons, let alone how it is connected with individual
neurons; Deperaux's information about the C. Elegans and the horseshoe
crab, and more info on Aplysia and Kandel, and info about what nerves
are easy to study (not many); Murray's project on artificial brains;
Teo's interesting information on the Medicinal Leech and the
interesting phase diagram on the website; and Maxwell's reference to
Kandel's book, and diplomatic corrections to the terms I was using to
search on horseshoe crab, and information on horse shoe crab material
and Hartline's work.
I will definitely drop the horseshoe crab and go with Aplysia. So that
the reader can get an idea of the complexity of this sea hare -
another question. What would be a good reference for finding out how
many neurons ants have?
Neither Amazon.com nor Barnes and Noble website nor Border's website
have Kandel's book, Behavioural biology of Aplysia. Nor did our
University Library (University of Nevada Las Vegas) have the book. So
I put in a request to our library system for an inter-library loan to
see if it will show up.