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J Comp Neurol. 1992 Jun 8;320(2):213-27.

Correlation of filiform hair position with sensory afferent morphology and synaptic connections in the second instar cockroach.

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Institute of Neurobiology, University of Puerto Rico, Old San Juan 00901.


An attempt is made to relate the distribution of filiform hairs on the cercus of the second instar cockroach, Periplaneta americana, to the morphology and patterns of synaptic connectivity of their afferents. We studied the most distal 25 of the 39 filiform hairs which are commonly present. Filiform afferent arborizations were stained by cobalt filling from the cell body in the cercus. Three fundamental arbor types were found, two similar to those of the first instar medial (M) and lateral (L) afferents, and a third, novel type. L-type arbors could be divided into four subtypes. The most obvious correlate of arbor type is the circumferential position of the hair on the cercus. The proximodistal position of the sensillum within each cercal segment is also a determinant of its arbor. By comparison of hair positions and afferent morphologies, we were able to ascribe homologies between the second instar hairs and members of adult longitudinal hair columns. The patterns of monosynaptic connections between afferents and giant interneurons (GIs) 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 were determined by recording synaptic potentials in GIs evoked by direct mechanical displacement of individual filiform hairs. Latency from stimulus onset to the rise phase of the first excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) was used as the criterion of monosynapticity. The EPSP amplitudes of the two original L and M afferents are halved in the second instar, in the absence of a significant decrease in GI input resistance. The other afferents can be divided into two basic classes: those which input to GI5 (M-type), and those which input to GI3 and GI6 (L-type). The former is correlated with a central or medial position, while the latter is associated with a group of afferents situated laterally on the cercus. In segments 3 and 4, input to GIs 1 and 2 also correlates with a medial cercal position, however, in the more proximal segments 5 and 6, afferents at all positions input to these interneurons. The occurrence of afferents of identical morphology and similar connectivity in equivalent positions in different segments suggests that each sensory neuron is determined by its two-dimensional position within a segment. The presence of afferents with the same morphology which display proximodistal differences in synaptic connectivity, and of other afferents which have M-type connectivity despite L-type morphology, means that anatomy is generally a poor predictor of synaptic connectivity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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