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Responses to mechanically and visually cued water waves in the nervous system of the medicinal leech

Lehmkuhl, Andrew M. and Muthusamy, Arunkumar and Wagenaar, Daniel A. (2018) Responses to mechanically and visually cued water waves in the nervous system of the medicinal leech. Journal of Experimental Biology, 221 (4). Art. No. jeb171728. ISSN 0022-0949. PMCID PMC5868928. doi:10.1242/jeb.171728.

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Sensitivity to water waves is a key modality by which aquatic predators can detect and localize their prey. For one such predator – the medicinal leech, Hirudo verbana – behavioral responses to visual and mechanical cues from water waves are well documented. Here, we quantitatively characterized the response patterns of a multisensory interneuron, the S cell, to mechanically and visually cued water waves. As a function of frequency, the response profile of the S cell replicated key features of the behavioral prey localization profile in both visual and mechanical modalities. In terms of overall firing rate, the S cell response was not direction selective, and although the direction of spike propagation within the S cell system did follow the direction of wave propagation under certain circumstances, it is unlikely that downstream neuronal targets can use this information. Accordingly, we propose a role for the S cell in the detection of waves but not in the localization of their source. We demonstrated that neither the head brain nor the tail brain are required for the S cell to respond to visually cued water waves.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle Information Paper
Lehmkuhl, Andrew M.0000-0002-5712-2012
Muthusamy, Arunkumar0000-0002-1804-586X
Wagenaar, Daniel A.0000-0002-6222-761X
Additional Information:© 2018. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd. Received October 6, 2017. Accepted December 5, 2017. We gratefully acknowledge help from Annette Stowasser in teaching dissection skills and useful discussions on optics and visual systems. The authors declare no competing or financial interests. Author contributions: Conceptualization: A.M., D.A.W.; Methodology: D.A.W.; Software: D.A.W.; Validation: D.A.W.; Formal analysis: A.M.L., A.M., D.A.W.; Investigation: A.M.L., A.M., D.A.W.; Data curation: D.A.W.; Writing - original draft: A.M.L., A.M., D.A.W.; Writing - review & editing: A.M.L., A.M., D.A.W.; Visualization: D.A.W.; Supervision: D.A.W.; Project administration: D.A.W.; Funding acquisition: D.A.W. This work was supported by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund through a Career Award at the Scientific Interface and by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke through R01 NS094403 (both to D.A.W.). Deposited in PMC for release after 12 months.
Group:Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Burroughs Wellcome FundUNSPECIFIED
NIHR01 NS094403
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Hirudo verbana, Electrophysiology, S cell, Sensory systems, Aquatic predators
Issue or Number:4
PubMed Central ID:PMC5868928
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180227-093930741
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Responses to mechanically and visually cued water waves in the nervous system of the medicinal leech Andrew M. Lehmkuhl, Arunkumar Muthusamy, Daniel A. Wagenaar Journal of Experimental Biology 2018 221: jeb171728 doi: 10.1242/jeb.171728 Published 22 February 2018
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:84971
Deposited On:27 Feb 2018 19:08
Last Modified:17 Mar 2022 16:51

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