Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurobiol. 1995 Aug;27(4):488-512.

Role of local nonspiking interneurons in the generation of rhythmic motor activity in the stick insect.

Author information

Fachbereich Biologie, Universität Kaiserslautern, Germany.


Local nonspiking interneurons in the thoracic ganglia of insects are important premotor elements in posture control and locomotion. It was investigated whether these interneurons are involved in the central neuronal circuits generating the oscillatory motor output of the leg muscle system during rhythmic motor activity. Intracellular recordings from premotor nonspiking interneurons were made in the isolated and completely deafferented mesothoracic ganglion of the stick insect in preparations exhibiting rhythmic motor activity induced by the muscarinic agonist pilocarpine. All interneurons investigated provided synaptic drive to one or more motoneuron pools supplying the three proximal leg joints, that is, the thoraco-coxal joint, the coxa-trochanteral joint and the femur-tibia joint. During rhythmicity in 83% (n = 67) of the recorded interneurons, three different kinds of synaptic oscillations in membrane potential were observed: (1) Oscillations were closely correlated with the activity of motoneuron pools affected; (2) membrane potential oscillations reflected only certain aspects of motoneuronal rhythmicity; and (3) membrane potential oscillations were correlated mainly with the occurrence of spontaneous recurrent patterns (SRP) of activity in the motoneuron pools. In individual interneurons membrane potential oscillations were associated with phase-dependent changes in the neuron's membrane conductance. Artificial changes in the interneurons' membrane potential strongly influenced motor activity. Injecting current pulses into individual interneurons caused a reset of rhythmicity in motoneurons. Furthermore, current injection into interneurons influenced shape and probability of occurrence for SRPs. Among others, identified nonspiking interneurons that are involved in posture control of leg joints were found to exhibit the above properties. From these results, the following conclusions on the role of nonspiking interneurons in the generation of rhythmic motor activity, and thus potentially also during locomotion, emerge: (1) During rhythmic motor activity most nonspiking interneurons receive strong synaptic drive from central rhythm-generating networks; and (2) individual nonspiking interneurons some of which underlie sensory-motor pathways in posture control, are elements of central neuronal networks that generate alternating activity in antagonistic leg motoneuron pools.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center