The command concept is the prevalent explanation for initiation of behavioral acts. We review the theory and methods used to show the existence of neurons mediating command function according to a major approach, which we call the Command Neuron Experiment (CNE). The CNE claims that command neurons are the cause of, or are necessary and sufficient for, the execution of behavioral acts. In the CNE, command function is unequivocally localized to a structure, the command neuron. However, findings from an archetypal command neuron, the Mauthner cell, produce anomalous interpretations in the context of this theory. This conflict is the cumulative result of faulty causal, operational and behavioral themes in the CNE. These themes readily lead to false-positive or false-negative conclusions when its operational procedures are applied. We conclude that this concept must be abandoned. In a companion paper we propose a re-formulation of command as a dynamic system property that is intermediate to neurophysiological and behavioral contexts and independent of methods, structures, or preconceived causal schemes.

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