Different sensory systems share projection neurons but elicit distinct motor patterns

J Neurosci. 2004 Dec 15;24(50):11381-90. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3219-04.2004.


Considerable research has focused on issues pertaining to sensorimotor integration, but in most systems precise information remains unavailable regarding the specific pathways by which different sensory systems regulate any single central pattern-generating circuit. We address this issue by determining how two muscle stretch-sensitive neurons, the gastropyloric receptor neurons (GPRs), influence identified projection neurons that regulate the gastric mill circuit in the stomatogastric nervous system of the crab and then comparing these actions with those of the ventral cardiac neuron (VCN) mechanosensory system. Here, we show that the GPR neurons activate the gastric mill rhythm in the stomatogastric ganglion (STG) via their excitation of two identified projection neurons, modulatory commissural neuron 1 (MCN1) and commissural projection neuron 2 (CPN2), in the commissural ganglion. Support for this conclusion comes from the ability of the modulatory proctolin neuron (MPN), a projection neuron that suppresses the gastric mill rhythm via its inhibitory actions on MCN1 and CPN2, to inhibit the GPR-elicited gastric mill rhythm. Selective elimination of MCN1 and CPN2 access to the STG also prevents GPR activation of this rhythm. The VCN neurons also elicit the gastric mill rhythm by coactivating MCN1 and CPN2, but the GPR-elicited gastric mill rhythm is distinct. These distinct rhythms are likely to result partly from different MCN1 activity levels under these two conditions and partly from the presence of additional GPR actions in the STG. These results support the hypothesis that different sensory systems differentially regulate neuronal circuit activity despite their convergent actions on a single subpopulation of projection neurons.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brachyura
  • Digestive System / innervation
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Periodicity
  • Sensation / physiology*