From decision to action: detailed modelling of frog tadpoles reveals neuronal mechanisms of decision-making and reproduces unpredictable swimming movements in response to sensory signals

Andrea Ferrario*, Andrey Palyanov, Stella Koutsikou, Wenchang Li, Steve Soffe, Alan Roberts, Roman Borisyuk

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

How does the brain process sensory stimuli, and decide whether to initiate locomotor behaviour? To investigate this question we develop two whole body computer models of a tadpole. The “Central Nervous System” (CNS) model uses evidence from whole-cell recording to define 2300 neurons in 12 classes to study how sensory signals from the skin initiate and stop swimming. In response to skin stimulation, it generates realistic sensory pathway spiking and shows how hindbrain sensory memory populations on each side can compete to initiate reticulospinal neuron firing and start swimming. The 3-D “Virtual Tadpole” (VT) biomechanical model with realistic muscle innervation, body flexion, body-water interaction, and movement is then used to evaluate if motor nerve outputs from the CNS model can produce swimming-like movements in a volume of “water”. We find that the whole tadpole VT model generates reliable and realistic swimming. Combining these two models opens new perspectives for experiments.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1009654
Number of pages41
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Volume17
Issue number12
Early online date13 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2021

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