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date: 15 April 2021

(p. xvii) Preface

(p. xvii) Preface

Studies of invertebrates have provided enormous insights into the structure and function of nervous systems. A major factor contributing to advances in our understanding is the relative simplicity of many invertebrate nervous systems. Some invertebrates, primarily the molluscs, have relatively large and easily identifiable nerve cells, which allow biochemical, biophysical, molecular, and neuronal network analyses to take place at the level of individually identified neurons. Other invertebrates, such as Drosophila and Caenorhabditis elegans, offer tremendous advantages for understanding the bases of neuronal function and behavior through the application of forward and reverse genetic approaches.

The field of invertebrate neurobiology is vast and cannot, today, be comprehensively covered by any single handbook. Indeed, even 50 years ago when much less was known, a complete review of the field was an enormous task, as exemplified by the monumental 1965 treatise of Bullock and Horridge, Structure and Function in Invertebrate Nervous Systems, published in two volumes of 1,719 pages. Since then, entire books have been written on the nervous system of just one of the species reviewed in Bullock and Horridge (e.g., Drosophila Neurobiology by Zhang, Freeman, and Waddell, 2010) or on a single function of the nervous system (e.g., Invertebrate Learning and Memory by Menzel and Benjamin, 2014). The present Handbook is a hybrid of these two approaches, with one focus on selected species that have been and continue to be at the forefront of current research, and another focus on selected nervous system functions on which research has made particular progress. Even within this restricted scope of topics, important findings on all species and functions could not be covered.

The Handbook reviews the many general neurobiological principles that have emerged from invertebrate analyses, such as motor pattern generation, mechanisms of synaptic transmission, and learning and memory. It also reviews general features of the neurobiology of invertebrate circadian rhythms, development, regeneration, and reproduction. Some neurobiological phenomena are species specific and very diverse, especially in the domain of the neuronal control of locomotion and camouflage. Thus, the Handbook devotes separate chapters to the control of swimming in annelids, crustacea, and molluscs; locomotion in hexapods; and camouflage in cephalopods. A unique feature of the book is the inclusion of chapters that review social behavior and intentionality in invertebrates. Finally, a chapter is devoted to summarizing the contributions of past studies of invertebrates to the understanding of nervous systems and to identifying areas for future studies that could advance our understanding. The Handbook will be useful to advanced students and scientists in neurobiology and, more broadly, neuroscience. It will be most useful as a reference, but it will be helpful in classroom instruction as well.

I thank Gordon Shepherd for initiating the project and inviting me to be the editor of this volume. Its success will be due to the enormous contributions of the chapter authors, all of whom are experts in their fields. I also give special thanks to Ada Brunstein, Executive Editor at Oxford University Press, for supporting the project and ensuring that the production schedule was maintained.

John H. Byrne (p. xviii)