Spectral analyses reveal the presence of adult-like activity in the embryonic stomatogastric motor patterns of the lobster, Homarus americanus

J Neurophysiol. 2008 Jun;99(6):3104-22. doi: 10.1152/jn.00042.2008. Epub 2008 Mar 26.


The stomatogastric nervous system (STNS) of the embryonic lobster is rhythmically active prior to hatching, before the network is needed for feeding. In the adult lobster, two rhythms are typically observed: the slow gastric mill rhythm and the more rapid pyloric rhythm. In the embryo, rhythmic activity in both embryonic gastric mill and pyloric neurons occurs at a similar frequency, which is slightly slower than the adult pyloric frequency. However, embryonic motor patterns are highly irregular, making traditional burst quantification difficult. Consequently, we used spectral analysis to analyze long stretches of simultaneous recordings from muscles innervated by gastric and pyloric neurons in the embryo. This analysis revealed that embryonic gastric mill neurons intermittently produced pauses and periods of slower activity not seen in the recordings of the output from embryonic pyloric neurons. The slow activity in the embryonic gastric mill neurons increased in response to the exogenous application of Cancer borealis tachykinin-related peptide 1a (CabTRP), a modulatory peptide that appears in the inputs to the stomatogastric ganglion (STG) late in larval development. These results suggest that the STG network can express adult-like rhythmic behavior before fully differentiated adult motor patterns are observed, and that the maturation of the neuromodulatory inputs is likely to play a role in the eventual establishment of the adult motor patterns.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Action Potentials / radiation effects
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / cytology*
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / embryology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Motor Neurons / drug effects
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Nephropidae
  • Nerve Net / drug effects
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Periodicity
  • Pylorus / innervation
  • Pylorus / physiology
  • Spectrum Analysis*
  • Stomach* / embryology
  • Stomach* / innervation
  • Stomach* / physiology
  • Tachykinins / pharmacology


  • Tachykinins