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J Neurophysiol. 2015 Sep;114(3):1677-92. doi: 10.1152/jn.00536.2015. Epub 2015 Jul 8.

Consequences of acute and long-term removal of neuromodulatory input on the episodic gastric rhythm of the crab Cancer borealis.

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Volen Center and Biology Department, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts
Volen Center and Biology Department, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts.


For decades, the episodic gastric rhythm of the crustacean stomatogastric nervous system (STNS) has served as an important model system for understanding the generation of rhythmic motor behaviors. Here we quantitatively describe many features of the gastric rhythm of the crab Cancer borealis under several conditions. First, we analyzed spontaneous gastric rhythms produced by freshly dissected preparations of the STNS, including the cycle frequency and phase relationships among gastric units. We find that phase is relatively conserved across frequency, similar to the pyloric rhythm. We also describe relationships between these two rhythms, including a significant gastric/pyloric frequency correlation. We then performed continuous, days-long extracellular recordings of gastric activity from preparations of the STNS in which neuromodulatory inputs to the stomatogastric ganglion were left intact and also from preparations in which these modulatory inputs were cut (decentralization). This allowed us to provide quantitative descriptions of variability and phase conservation within preparations across time. For intact preparations, gastric activity was more variable than pyloric activity but remained relatively stable across 4-6 days, and many significant correlations were found between phase and frequency within animals. Decentralized preparations displayed fewer episodes of gastric activity, with altered phase relationships, lower frequencies, and reduced coordination both among gastric units and between the gastric and pyloric rhythms. Together, these results provide insight into the role of neuromodulation in episodic pattern generation and the extent of animal-to-animal variability in features of spontaneously occurring gastric rhythms.


central pattern generators; stomatogastric nervous system

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