Sensory regulation of network components underlying ciliary locomotion in Hermissenda

Publication Date



Journal of Neurophysiology


Ciliary locomotion in the nudibranch mollusk Hermissenda is modulated by the visual and graviceptive systems. Components of the neural network mediating ciliary locomotion have been identified including aggregates of polysensory interneurons that receive monosynaptic input from identified photoreceptors and efferent neurons that activate cilia. Illumination produces an inhibition of type I(i) (off-cell) spike activity, excitation of type I(e) (on-cell) spike activity, decreased spike activity in type III(i) inhibitory interneurons, and increased spike activity of ciliary efferent neurons. Here we show that pairs of type I(i) interneurons and pairs of type I(e) interneurons are electrically coupled. Neither electrical coupling or synaptic connections were observed between I(e) and I(i) interneurons. Coupling is effective in synchronizing dark-adapted spontaneous firing between pairs of I(e) and pairs of I(i) interneurons. Out-of-phase burst activity, occasionally observed in dark-adapted and light-adapted pairs of I(e) and I(i) interneurons, suggests that they receive synaptic input from a common presynaptic source or sources. Rhythmic activity is typically not a characteristic of dark-adapted, light-adapted, or light-evoked firing of type I interneurons. However, burst activity in I(e) and I(i) interneurons may be elicited by electrical stimulation of pedal nerves or generated at the offset of light. Our results indicate that type I interneurons can support the generation of both rhythmic activity and changes in tonic firing depending on sensory input. This suggests that the neural network supporting ciliary locomotion may be multifunctional. However, consistent with the nonmuscular and nonrhythmic characteristics of visually modulated ciliary locomotion, type I interneurons exhibit changes in tonic activity evoked by illumination.


Action Potentials, Animals, Cilia, Electric Stimulation, Gap Junctions, Hermissenda, Locomotion, Models, Neurological, Nerve Net, Periodicity, Photic Stimulation, Reaction Time, Sensory Receptor Cells