Reconfiguration of a vertebrate motor network: specific neuron recruitment and context-dependent synaptic plasticity.

Wenchang Li, B Sautois, A Roberts, SR Soffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Motor networks typically generate several related output patterns or gaits where individual neurons may be shared or recruited between patterns. We investigate how a vertebrate locomotor network is reconfigured to produce a second rhythmic motor pattern, defining the detailed pattern of neuronal recruitment and consequent changes in the mechanism for rhythm generation. Hatchling Xenopus tadpoles swim if touched, but when held make slower, stronger, struggling movements. In immobilized tadpoles, a brief current pulse to the skin initiates swimming, whereas 40 Hz pulses produce struggling. The classes of neurons active during struggling are defined using whole-cell patch recordings from hindbrain and spinal cord neurons during 40 Hz stimulation of the skin. Some motoneurons and inhibitory interneurons are active in both swimming and struggling, but more neurons are recruited within these classes during struggling. In addition, and in contrast to a previous study, we describe two new classes of excitatory interneuron specifically recruited during struggling and define their properties and synaptic connections. We then explore mechanisms that generate struggling by building a network model incorporating these new neurons. As well as the recruitment of new neuron classes, we show that reconfiguration of the locomotor network to the struggling central pattern generator (CPG) reveals a context-dependent synaptic depression of reciprocal inhibition: the result of increased inhibitory neuron firing frequency during struggling. This provides one possible mechanism for burst termination not seen in the swimming CPG. The direct demonstration of depression in reciprocal inhibition confirms a key element of Brown's (1911) hypothesis for locomotor rhythmogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12267-12276
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of Neuroscience
Volume27
Issue number45
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2007

Keywords

  • xenopus
  • synaptic depression
  • interneurons
  • modeling
  • switching
  • inhibition
  • CUTANEOUS FLEXION REFLEX
  • EMBRYO SPINAL-CORD
  • XENOPUS-LAEVIS
  • SWIMMING RHYTHMICITY
  • NEUROMUSCULAR BASIS
  • MEMBRANE-PROPERTIES
  • LOCOMOTOR NETWORK
  • INTERNEURONS
  • LAMPREY
  • PATTERN

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