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Neural modulation of visuomotor functions underlying prey-catching behaviour in anurans: perception, attention, motor performance, learning.

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Department of Neurobiology, FB19 Biology/Chemistry, University of, Kassel, Germany.


The present review points out that visuomotor functions in anurans are modifiable and provides neurophysiological data which suggest modulatory forebrain functions. The retino-tecto/tegmento-bulbar/spinal serial processing streams are sufficient for stimulus-response mediation in prey-catching behaviour. Without its modulatory connections to forebrain structures, however, these processing streams cannot manage perceptual tasks, directed attention, learning performances, and motor skills. (1) Visual prey/non-prey discrimination is based on the interaction of this processing stream with the pretectal thalamus involving the neurotransmitter neuropeptide-Y. (2) Experiments applying the dopamine agonist apomorphine in combination with 2DG mapping and single neurone recording suggest that prey-catching strategies in terms of hunting prey and waiting for prey depend on dose dependent dopaminergic adjustments in the neural macronetwork in which retinal, pretecto-tectal, basal ganglionic, limbic, and mesolimbic structures participate. (3) Visual response properties of striatal efferent neurones support the concept that ventral striatum is involved in directed attention. (4) Various modulatory loops involving the ventral medial pallium modify prey-recognition in the course of visual or visual-olfactory learning (associative learning) or are responsible for stimulus-specific habituation (non-associative learning). (5) The circuits suggested to underlie modulatory forebrain functions are accentuated in standard schemes of the neural macronetwork. These provide concepts suitable for future decisive experiments.

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