Roles for inhibition: studies on networks controlling swimming in young frog tadpoles

J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2008 Feb;194(2):185-93. doi: 10.1007/s00359-007-0273-3. Epub 2008 Jan 29.


The hatchling frog tadpole provides a simple preparation where the fundamental roles for inhibition in the central nervous networks controlling behaviour can be examined. Antibody staining reveals the distribution of at least ten different populations of glycinergic and GABAergic neurons in the CNS. Single neuron recording and marker injections have been used to study the roles and anatomy of three types of inhibitory neuron in the swimming behaviour of the tadpole. Spinal commissural interneurons control alternation of the two sides by producing glycinergic reciprocal inhibition. By interacting with the special membrane properties of excitatory interneurons they also contribute to rhythm generation through post-inhibitory rebound. Spinal ascending interneurons produce recurrent glycinergic inhibition of sensory pathways that gates reflex responses during swimming. In addition their inhibition also limits firing in CPG neurons during swimming. Midhindbrain reticulospinal neurons are excited by pressure to the head and produce powerful GABAergic inhibition that stops swimming when the tadpole swims into solid objects. They may also produce tonic inhibition while the tadpole is at rest that reduces spontaneous swimming and responsiveness of the tadpole, keeping it still so it is not noticed by predators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anura / embryology*
  • Anura / physiology*
  • Central Nervous System / embryology
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Larva / physiology
  • Nerve Net / embryology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Swimming / physiology*