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Neuron. 2005 Jul 7;47(1):13-28.

The Mauthner cell half a century later: a neurobiological model for decision-making?

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Laboratoire Recepteurs et Cognition, CNRS, URA 2182, Institut Pasteur, 25, rue du Docteur-Roux, 75724 Paris Cedex 15, France.


The Mauthner (M) cell is a critical element in a vital escape "reflex" triggered by abrupt or threatening events. Its properties at the molecular and synaptic levels, their various forms of plasticity, and the design of its networks, are all well adapted for this survival function. They guarantee that this behavior is appropriately unilateral, variable, and unpredictable. The M cell sets the behavioral threshold, and, acting in concert with other elements of the brainstem escape network, determines when, where, and how the escape is executed.

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