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nature neurOSCIenCe VOLUME 13 | NUMBER 5 | MAY 2010 615 a r t I C l e S

Summary: nature neurOSCIenCe VOLUME 13 | NUMBER 5 | MAY 2010 615
a r t I C l e S
Embedded in an animal's neuroanatomy are the pathways that drive its
behavior.More than twenty years ago,a wiring diagram of the C. elegans
nervous system was constructed from serial-section electron micro-
graphs1.Despite this unique resource,the relationships between sensory
inputs, neuronal activity and specific behavioral programs in C. elegans
are unclear2,3. We are exploring these issues within a circuit that gener-
ates undirected search when worms are removed from food,and directed
chemotaxis in odor gradients46.Both of these behaviors are initiated by
AWC olfactory neurons and are based on temporally regulated turning:
in the absence of food, a transient bout of turning produces undirected
local search; and in the presence of an odor gradient, temporally regu-
lated turning produces a biased random walk for gradient climbing7,8.
Through cell ablation and quantitative behavioral analysis, neurons
in this circuit have been traced from sensory input to motor output5,6.
Sensory neurons detect changes in odor levels or feeding state, and
make synapses onto a layer of interneurons that control turning rates
in a coordinated fashion; a second layer of interneurons and down-
stream motor neurons regulate specific classes of turns and features


Source: Abbott, Laurence - Center for Neurobiology and Behavior & Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University


Collections: Biology and Medicine