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Behavioral/Systems/Cognitive Neuromodulation of Spike-Timing Precision in

Summary: Behavioral/Systems/Cognitive
Neuromodulation of Spike-Timing Precision in
Sensory Neurons
Cyrus P. Billimoria,1 Ralph A. DiCaprio,2 John T. Birmingham,3 L. F. Abbott,1 and Eve Marder1
1Volen Center and Biology Department, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02454, 2Department of Biological Sciences, Ohio University, Athens,
Ohio 45701, and 3Department of Physics, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California 95053
The neuropeptide allatostatin decreases the spike rate in response to time-varying stretches of two different crustacean mechanorecep-
tors, the gastropyloric receptor 2 in the crab Cancer borealis and the coxobasal chordotonal organ (CBCTO) in the crab Carcinus maenas.
In each system, the decrease in firing rate is accompanied by an increase in the timing precision of spikes triggered by discrete temporal
features in the stimulus. This was quantified by calculating the standard deviation or "jitter" in the times of individual identified spikes
elicited in response to repeated presentations of the stimulus. Conversely, serotonin increases the firing rate but decreases the timing
precision of the CBCTO response. Intracellular recordings from the afferents of this receptor demonstrate that allatostatin increases the
conductance of the neurons, consistent with its inhibitory action on spike rate, whereas serotonin decreases the overall membrane
conductance. We conclude that spike-timing precision of mechanoreceptor afferents in response to dynamic stimulation can be altered
by neuromodulators acting directly on the afferent neurons.
Key words: stretch receptor; reliability; coding; neuropeptide; crustacea; STG
Numerous studies have demonstrated that, in response to re-
peated presentations of an identical time-varying stimulus, neu-
rons can generate very reproducible firing patterns in which in-


Source: Abbott, Laurence - Center for Neurobiology and Behavior & Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University
Peterson, Ellengene - Department of Biological Sciences, Ohio University


Collections: Biology and Medicine