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Phase-Locked Modes, Phase Transitions and Component Oscillators in Biological Motion
We review the results of joint experimental and theoretical work on coordinated biological motion demonstrating the close alliance between our observations and other nonequilibrium phase transitions in nature (e.g., the presence of critical fluctuations, critical slowing down). Order parameters are empirically determined and their (low-dimensional) dynamics used in order to explain specific pattern formation in movement, including stability and loss of stability leading to behavioral change, phase-locked modes and entrainment. The system's components and their dynamics are identified and it is shown how these may be coupled to produce observed cooperative states. This "phenomenological synergetics" approach is minimalist and operational in strategy, and may be used to understand other systems (e.g., speech), other levels (e.g., neural) and the linkage among levels. It also promotes the search for additional forms of order in multi-component, multi-stable systems.