Robustness of a rhythmic circuit to short- and long-term temperature changes

J Neurosci. 2012 Jul 18;32(29):10075-85. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1443-12.2012.


Recent computational and experimental work has shown that similar network performance can result from variable sets of synaptic and intrinsic properties. Because temperature is a global perturbation that differentially influences every biological process within the nervous system, one might therefore expect that individual animals would respond differently to temperature. Nonetheless, the phase relationships of the pyloric rhythm of the stomatogastric ganglion (STG) of the crab, Cancer borealis, are remarkably invariant between 7 and 23°C (Tang et al., 2010). Here, we report that, when isolated STG preparations were exposed to more extreme temperature ranges, their networks became nonrhythmic, or "crashed", in a reversible fashion. Animals were acclimated for at least 3 weeks at 7, 11, or 19°C. When networks from the acclimated animals were perturbed by acute physiologically relevant temperature ramps (11-23°C), the network frequency and phase relationships were independent of the acclimation group. At high acute temperatures (>23°C), circuits from the cold-acclimated animals produced less-regular pyloric rhythms than those from warm-acclimated animals. At high acute temperatures, phase relationships between pyloric neurons were more variable from animal to animal than at moderate acute temperatures, suggesting that individual differences across animals in intrinsic circuit parameters are revealed at high temperatures. This shows that individual and variable neuronal circuits can behave similarly in normal conditions, but their behavior may diverge when confronted with extreme external perturbations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Brachyura
  • Environment
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Periodicity
  • Pylorus / innervation*
  • Temperature