Functional consequences of animal-to-animal variation in circuit parameters

Nat Neurosci. 2009 Nov;12(11):1424-30. doi: 10.1038/nn.2404. Epub 2009 Oct 18.


How different are the neuronal circuits for a given behavior across individual animals? To address this question, we measured multiple cellular and synaptic parameters in individual preparations to see how they correlated with circuit function, using neurons and synapses in the pyloric circuit of the stomatogastric ganglion of the crab Cancer borealis. There was considerable preparation-to-preparation variability in the strength of two identified synapses, in the amplitude of a modulator-evoked current and in the expression of six ion channel genes. Nonetheless, we found strong correlations across preparations among these parameters and attributes of circuit performance. These data illustrate the importance of making multidimensional measurements from single preparations for understanding how variability in circuit output is related to the variability of multiple circuit parameters.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / pharmacology
  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Biophysical Phenomena / physiology
  • Biophysics / methods
  • Brachyura
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / cytology
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Glutamic Acid / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Periodicity
  • Potassium Channels / classification
  • Potassium Channels / genetics
  • Potassium Channels / metabolism
  • Pylorus / cytology*
  • Pylorus / drug effects
  • Pylorus / physiology*
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Stomatognathic System / cytology
  • Synapses / physiology*


  • Potassium Channels
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Acetylcholine