Send to

Choose Destination
Biol Open. 2017 Jul 15;6(7):993-999. doi: 10.1242/bio.023960.

Intrinsic frequency response patterns in mechano-sensory neurons of the leech.

Author information

Institute of Zoology, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Buenteweg 17, Hannover 30559, Germany.
Department Biology II, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Großhadener Straße 2, Planegg/Martinsried 82152, Germany.
Institute of Zoology, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Buenteweg 17, Hannover 30559, Germany


Animals employ mechano-sensory systems to detect and explore their environment. Mechano-sensation encompasses stimuli such as constant pressure, surface movement or vibrations at various intensities that need to be segregated in the central nervous system. Besides different receptor structures, sensory filtering via intrinsic response properties could provide a convenient way to solve this problem. In leech, three major mechano-sensory cell types can be distinguished, according to their stimulus sensitivity, as nociceptive, pressure and touch cells. Using intracellular recordings, we show that the different mechano-sensory neuron classes in Hirudo medicinalis differentially respond supra-threshold to distinct frequencies of sinusoidal current injections between 0.2 and 20 Hz. Nociceptive cells responded with a low-pass filter characteristic, pressure cells as high-pass filters and touch cells as an intermediate band-pass filter. Each class of mechano-sensory neurons is thus intrinsically tuned to a specific frequency range of voltage oscillation that could help segregate mechano-sensory information centrally.


Input-output function; Medicinal leech; Neuronal excitability; Sensory filter; Sensory integration

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interestsThe authors declare no competing or financial interests.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center