Global brain dynamics embed the motor command sequence of Caenorhabditis elegans

Cell. 2015 Oct 22;163(3):656-69. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.09.034. Epub 2015 Oct 17.


While isolated motor actions can be correlated with activities of neuronal networks, an unresolved problem is how the brain assembles these activities into organized behaviors like action sequences. Using brain-wide calcium imaging in Caenorhabditis elegans, we show that a large proportion of neurons across the brain share information by engaging in coordinated, dynamical network activity. This brain state evolves on a cycle, each segment of which recruits the activities of different neuronal sub-populations and can be explicitly mapped, on a single trial basis, to the animals' major motor commands. This organization defines the assembly of motor commands into a string of run-and-turn action sequence cycles, including decisions between alternative behaviors. These dynamics serve as a robust scaffold for action selection in response to sensory input. This study shows that the coordination of neuronal activity patterns into global brain dynamics underlies the high-level organization of behavior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / cytology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Motor Neurons / cytology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Nerve Net
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / cytology
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology
  • Signal Transduction