Neurons that form multiple pattern generators: identification and multiple activity patterns of gastric/pyloric neurons in the crab stomatogastric system

J Neurophysiol. 1991 Jan;65(1):111-22. doi: 10.1152/jn.1991.65.1.111.


1. The stomatogastric ganglion (STG) of decapod crustaceans has been characterized by its production of two motor patterns, the gastric mill rhythm and the pyloric rhythm. The period of the gastric rhythm is typically 5-10 s, whereas the period of the pyloric rhythm is approximately 1 s. 2. In the STG of the crab, Cancer borealis, we find routinely that many motor neurons are active in time with both the pyloric and gastric rhythms. We rigorously identified the motor neurons according to the muscles they innervate. Some neurons usually classified as members of the pyloric network can be active in time with the gastric rhythm. All of the gastric motor neurons except the dorsal gastric (DG) neuron can generate pyloric-timed firing patterns. 3. Two motor neurons innervate muscles found in several different regions of the stomach. The inferior cardiac (IC) neuron, usually considered part of the pyloric network, innervates cardiac sac, gastric mill, and pyloric muscles. The lateral posterior gastric (LPG) neurons innervate muscles of both the gastric mill and the pyloric chamber. 4. These data show that the gastric and pyloric networks in the crab are not separate groups of neurons that independently generate two different rhythmic behaviors. Rather, these neurons together provide a synaptically connected pool of neurons from which many different pattern-generating circuits can be assembled, under different physiological conditions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brachyura / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Pylorus / innervation
  • Pylorus / physiology
  • Reaction Time
  • Stomach / innervation
  • Stomach / physiology