[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During active movements, neural replicas of the underlying motor commands may assist in adapting motion-detecting sensory systems to an animal's own behaviour. The transmission of such motor efference copies to the mechanosensory periphery offers a potential predictive substrate for diminishing sensory responsiveness to self-motion during vertebrate locomotion. Here, using semi-isolated in vitro preparations of larval Xenopus, we demonstrate that shared efferent neural pathways to hair cells of vestibular endorgans and lateral line neuromasts express cyclic impulse bursts during swimming that are directly driven by spinal locomotor circuitry. Despite common efferent innervation and discharge patterns, afferent signal encoding at the two mechanosensory peripheries is influenced differentially by efference copy signals, reflecting the different organization of body/water motion-detecting processes in the vestibular and lateral line systems. The resultant overall gain reduction in sensory signal encoding in both cases, which likely prevents overstimulation, constitutes an adjustment to increased stimulus magnitudes during locomotion.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During motor behavior, corollary discharges of the underlying motor commands inform sensory-motor systems about impending or ongoing movements. These signals generally limit the impact of self-generated sensory stimuli but also induce motor reactions that stabilize sensory perception. Here, we demonstrate in isolated preparations of Xenopus laevis tadpoles that locomotor corollary discharge provokes a retraction of the mechanoreceptive tentacles during fictive swimming. In the absence of sensory feedback, these signals activate a cluster of trigeminal motoneurons that cause a contraction of the tentacle muscle. This corollary discharge encodes duration and strength of locomotor activity, thereby ensuring a reliable coupling between locomotion and tentacle motion. The strict phase coupling between the trigeminal and spinal motor activity, present in many cases, suggests that the respective corollary discharge is causally related to the ongoing locomotor output and derives at least in part from the spinal central pattern generator; however, additional contributions from midbrain and/or hindbrain locomotor centers are likely. The swimming-related retraction might protect the touch-receptive Merkel cells on the tentacle from sensory over-stimulation and damage and/or reduce the hydrodynamic drag. The intrinsic nature of the coupling of tentacle retraction to locomotion is an excellent example of a context-dependent, direct link between otherwise discrete motor behaviors.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · Journal of Experimental Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Optical visualization of neural network activity is limited by imaging system-dependent technical tradeoffs. To overcome these constraints, we have developed a powerful low-cost and flexible imaging system with high spectral variability and unique spatio-temporal precision for simultaneous optical recording and manipulation of neural activity of large cell groups. The system comprises 8 high-power light emitting diodes (LEDs), a camera with a large metal-oxide-semiconductor (sCMOS) sensor and a high numerical aperture water-dipping objective. It allows fast and precise control of excitation and simultaneous low noise imaging at high resolution. Adjustable apertures generated two independent areas of variable size and position for simultaneous optical activation and image capture. The experimental applicability of this system was explored in semi-isolated preparations of larval axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) with intact inner ear organs and central nervous circuits. Cyclic galvanic stimulation of semicircular canals together with glutamate- and GABA-uncaging caused a corresponding modulation of Ca(2+) transients in central vestibular neurons. These experiments revealed specific cellular properties as well as synaptic interactions between excitatory and inhibitory inputs, responsible for spatio-temporal specific sensory signal processing. Location-specific GABA-uncaging revealed a potent inhibitory shunt of vestibular nerve afferent input in the predominating population of tonic vestibular neurons, indicating a considerable impact of local and commissural inhibitory circuits on the processing of head/body motion-related signals. The discovery of these previously unknown properties of vestibular computations demonstrate the merits of our novel microscope system for experimental applications in the field of neurobiology. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · European Journal of Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Anesthetics are drugs that reversibly relieve pain, decrease body movements and suppress neuronal activity. Most drugs only cover one of these effects; for instance, analgesics relieve pain but fail to block primary fiber responses to noxious stimuli. Alternately, paralytic drugs block synaptic transmission at neuromuscular junctions, thereby effectively paralyzing skeletal muscles. Thus, both analgesics and paralytics each accomplish one effect, but fail to singularly account for all three. Tricaine methanesulfonate (MS-222) is structurally similar to benzocaine, a typical anesthetic for anamniote vertebrates, but contains a sulfate moiety rendering this drug more hydrophilic. MS-222 is used as anesthetic in poikilothermic animals such as fish and amphibians. However, it is often argued that MS-222 is only a hypnotic drug and its ability to block neural activity has been questioned. This prompted us to evaluate the potency and dynamics of MS-222-induced effects on neuronal firing of sensory and motor nerves alongside a defined motor behavior in semi-intact in vitro preparations of Xenopus laevis tadpoles. Electrophysiological recordings of extraocular motor discharge and both spontaneous and evoked mechanosensory nerve activity were measured before, during and after administration of MS-222, then compared to benzocaine and a known paralytic, pancuronium. Both MS-222 and benzocaine, but not pancuronium caused a dose-dependent, reversible blockade of extraocular motor and sensory nerve activity. These results indicate that MS-222 as benzocaine blocks the activity of both sensory and motor nerves compatible with the mechanistic action of effective anesthetics, indicating that both caine-derivates are effective as single-drug anesthetics for surgical interventions in anamniotes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Among the major distance senses of vertebrates, the ear is unique in its complex morphological changes during evolution. Conceivably, these changes enable the ear to adapt toward sensing various physically well-characterized stimuli. This review develops a scenario that integrates sensory cell with organ evolution. We propose that molecular and cellular evolution of the vertebrate hair cells occurred prior to the formation of the vertebrate ear. We previously proposed that the genes driving hair cell differentiation were aggregated in the otic region through developmental re-patterning that generated a unique vertebrate embryonic structure, the otic placode. In agreement with the presence of graviceptive receptors in many vertebrate outgroups, it is likely that the vertebrate ear originally functioned as a simple gravity-sensing organ. Based on the rare occurrence of angular acceleration receptors in vertebrate outgroups, we further propose that the canal system evolved with a more sophisticated ear morphogenesis. This evolving morphogenesis obviously turned the initial otocyst into a complex set of canals and recesses, harboring multiple sensory epithelia each adapted to the acquisition of a specific aspect of a given physical stimulus. As support for this evolutionary progression, we provide several details of the molecular basis of ear development.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · Journal of Comparative Physiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Central vestibular neurons form identifiable subgroups within the boundaries of classically outlined octavolateral nuclei in primitive vertebrates that are distinct from those processing lateral line, electrosensory, and auditory signals. Each vestibular subgroup exhibits a particular morpho-physiological property that receives origin-specific sensory inputs from semicircular canal and otolith organs. Behaviorally characterized phenotypes send discrete axonal projections to extraocular, spinal, and cerebellar targets including other ipsi- and contralateral vestibular nuclei. The anatomical locations of vestibuloocular and vestibulospinal neurons correlate with genetically defined hindbrain compartments that are well conserved throughout vertebrate evolution though some variability exists in fossil and extant vertebrate species. The different vestibular subgroups exhibit a robust sensorimotor signal processing complemented with a high degree of vestibular and visual adaptive plasticity.
Preview · Article · Nov 2013 · Frontiers in Neural Circuits
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis in humans is often associated with vestibulomotor deficits. Compatible with a vestibular origin, scoliotic deformations were provoked in adult Xenopus frogs by unilateral labyrinthectomy (UL) at larval stages. The aquatic ecophysiology and absence of body-weight-supporting limb proprioceptive signals in amphibian tadpoles as a potential sensory substitute after UL might be the cause for a persistent asymmetric descending vestibulospinal activity. Therefore, peripheral vestibular lesions in larval Xenopus were used to reveal the morphophysiological alterations at the cellular and network levels. As a result, spinal motor nerves that were modulated by the previously intact side before UL remained permanently silent during natural vestibular stimulation after the lesion. In addition, retrograde tracing of descending pathways revealed a loss of vestibular neurons on the ipsilesional side with crossed vestibulospinal projections. This loss facilitated a general mass imbalance in descending premotor activity and a permanent asymmetric motor drive to the axial musculature. Therefore, we propose that the persistent asymmetric contraction of trunk muscles exerts a constant, uncompensated differential mechanical pull on bilateral skeletal elements that enforces a distortion of the soft cartilaginous skeletal elements and bone shapes. This ultimately provokes severe scoliotic deformations during ontogenetic development similar to the human syndrome.
Preview · Article · Apr 2013 · The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In swimming Xenopus laevis tadpoles, gaze stabilization is achieved by efference copies of spinal locomotory CPG output that produce rhythmic extraocular motor activity appropriate for minimizing motion-derived visual disturbances. During metamorphosis, Xenopus switches its locomotory mechanism from larval tail-based undulatory movements to bilaterally synchronous hindlimb kick propulsion in the adult. The change in locomotory mode leads to body motion dynamics that no longer require conjugate left-right eye rotations for effective retinal image stabilization. Using in vivo kinematic analyses, in vitro electrophysiological recordings and specific CNS lesions, we have investigated spino-extraocular motor coupling in the juvenile frog and the underlying neural pathways to understand how gaze control processes are altered in accordance with the animal's change in body plan and locomotor strategy. Recordings of extraocular and limb motor nerves during spontaneous "fictive" swimming in isolated CNS preparations revealed that there is indeed a corresponding change in spinal efference copy control of extraocular motor output. In contrast to fictive larval swimming where alternating bursts occur in bilateral antagonistic horizontal extraocular nerves, during adult fictive limb-kicking, these motor nerves are synchronously active in accordance with the production of convergent eye movements during the linear head accelerations resulting from forward propulsion. Correspondingly, the neural pathways mediating spino-extraocular coupling have switched from contralateral to strictly ipsilateral ascending influences that ensure a coactivation of bilateral extraocular motoneurons with synchronous left-right limb extensions. Thus, adaptive developmental plasticity during metamorphosis enables spinal CPG-driven extraocular motor activity to match the changing requirements for eye movement control during self-motion.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In guiding adaptive behavior, efference copy signals or corollary discharge are traditionally considered to serve as predictors of self-generated sensory inputs and by interfering with their central processing are able to counter unwanted consequences of an animal's own actions. Here, in a speculative reflection on this issue, we consider a different functional role for such intrinsic predictive signaling, namely in stabilizing gaze during locomotion where resultant changes in head orientation in space require online compensatory eye movements in order to prevent retinal image slip. The direct activation of extraocular motoneurons by locomotor-related efference copies offers a prospective substrate for assisting self-motion derived sensory feedback, rather than being subtracted from the sensory signal to eliminate unwanted reafferent information. However, implementing such a feed-forward mechanism would be critically dependent on an appropriate phase coupling between rhythmic propulsive movement and resultant head/visual image displacement. We used video analyzes of actual locomotor behavior and basic theoretical modeling to evaluate head motion during stable locomotion in animals as diverse as Xenopus laevis tadpoles, teleost fish and horses in order to assess the potential suitability of spinal efference copies to the stabilization of gaze during locomotion. In all three species, and therefore regardless of aquatic or terrestrial environment, the head displacements that accompanied locomotor action displayed a strong correlative spatio-temporal relationship in correspondence with a potential predictive value for compensatory eye adjustments. Although spinal central pattern generator-derived efference copies offer appropriately timed commands for extraocular motor control during self-generated motion, it is likely that precise image stabilization requires the additional contributions of sensory feedback signals. Nonetheless, the predictability of the visual consequences of stereotyped locomotion renders intrinsic efference copy signaling an appealing mechanism for offsetting these disturbances, thus questioning the exclusive role traditionally ascribed to sensory-motor transformations in stabilizing gaze during vertebrate locomotion.
No preview · Article · Nov 2012 · Biological Cybernetics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Self-generated body movements require compensatory eye and head adjustments in order to avoid perturbation of visual information processing. Retinal image stabilization is traditionally ascribed to the transformation of visuovestibular signals into appropriate extraocular motor commands for compensatory ocular movements. During locomotion, however, intrinsic "efference copies" of the motor commands deriving from spinal central pattern generator (CPG) activity potentially offer a reliable and rapid mechanism for image stabilization, in addition to the slower contribution of movement-encoding sensory inputs.
Using a variety of in vitro and in vivo preparations of Xenopus tadpoles, we demonstrate that spinal locomotor CPG-derived efference copies do indeed produce effective conjugate eye movements that counteract oppositely directed horizontal head displacements during undulatory tail-based locomotion. The efference copy transmission, by which the extraocular motor system becomes functionally appropriated to the spinal cord, is mediated by direct ascending pathways. Although the impact of the CPG feedforward commands matches the spatiotemporal specificity of classical vestibulo-ocular responses, the two fundamentally different signals do not contribute collectively to image stabilization during swimming. Instead, when the CPG is active, horizontal vestibulo-ocular reflexes resulting from head movements are selectively suppressed.
These results therefore challenge our traditional understanding of how animals offset the disruptive effects of propulsive body movements on visual processing. Specifically, our finding that predictive efference copies of intrinsic, rhythmic neural signals produced by the locomotory CPG supersede, rather than supplement, reactive vestibulo-ocular reflexes in order to drive image-stabilizing eye adjustments during larval frog swimming, represents a hitherto unreported mechanism for vertebrate ocular motor control.
Preview · Article · Jul 2012 · Current biology: CB
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Studies of behavioral consequences after unilateral labyrinthectomy have a long tradition in the quest of determining rules and limitations of the central nervous system (CNS) to exert plastic changes that assist the recuperation from the loss of sensory inputs. Frogs were among the first animal models to illustrate general principles of regenerative capacity and reorganizational neural flexibility after a vestibular lesion. The continuous successful use of the latter animals is in part based on the easy access and identifiability of nerve branches to inner ear organs for surgical intervention, the possibility to employ whole brain preparations for in vitro studies and the limited degree of freedom of postural reflexes for quantification of behavioral impairments and subsequent improvements. Major discoveries that increased the knowledge of post-lesional reactive mechanisms in the CNS include alterations in vestibular commissural signal processing and activation of cooperative changes in excitatory and inhibitory inputs to disfacilitated neurons. Moreover, the observed increase of synaptic efficacy in propriospinal circuits illustrates the importance of limb proprioceptive inputs for postural recovery. Accumulated evidence suggests that the lesion-induced neural plasticity is not a goal-directed process that aims toward a meaningful restoration of vestibular reflexes but rather attempts a survival of those neurons that have lost their excitatory inputs. Accordingly, the reaction mechanism causes an improvement of some components but also a deterioration of other aspects as seen by spatio-temporally inappropriate vestibulo-motor responses, similar to the consequences of plasticity processes in various sensory systems and species. The generality of the findings indicate that frogs continue to form a highly amenable vertebrate model system for exploring molecular and physiological events during cellular and network reorganization after a loss of vestibular function.
Preview · Article · Apr 2012 · Frontiers in Neurology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The amphibian Xenopus laevis represents a highly amenable model system for exploring the ontogeny of central neural networks, the functional establishment of sensory-motor transformations, and the generation of effective motor commands for complex behaviors. Specifically, the ability to employ a range of semi-intact and isolated preparations for in vitro morphophysiological experimentation has provided new insights into the developmental and integrative processes associated with the generation of locomotory behavior during changing life styles. In vitro electrophysiological studies have begun to explore the functional assembly, disassembly and dynamic plasticity of spinal pattern generating circuits as Xenopus undergoes the developmental switch from larval tail-based swimming to adult limb-based locomotion. Major advances have also been made in understanding the developmental onset of multisensory signal processing for reactive gaze and posture stabilizing reflexes during self-motion. Additionally, recent evidence from semi-intact animal and isolated CNS experiments has provided compelling evidence that in Xenopus tadpoles, predictive feed-forward signaling from the spinal locomotor pattern generator are engaged in minimizing visual disturbances during tail-based swimming. This new concept questions the traditional view of retinal image stabilization that in vertebrates has been exclusively attributed to sensory-motor transformations of body/head motion-detecting signals. Moreover, changes in visuomotor demands associated with the developmental transition in propulsive strategy from tail- to limb-based locomotion during metamorphosis presumably necessitates corresponding adaptive alterations in the intrinsic spinoextraocular coupling mechanism. Consequently, Xenopus provides a unique opportunity to address basic questions on the developmental dynamics of neural network assembly and sensory-motor computations for vertebrate motor behavior in general.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Head motion-related sensory signals are transformed by second-order vestibular neurons (2°VNs) into appropriate commands for retinal image stabilization during body motion. In frogs, these 2°VNs form two distinct subpopulations that have either tonic or highly phasic intrinsic properties, essentially compatible with low-pass and bandpass filter characteristics, respectively. In the present study, physiological data on cellular properties of 2°VNs of the grass frog (Rana temporaria) have been used to construct conductance-based spiking cellular models that were fine-tuned by fitting to recorded spike-frequency data. The results of this approach suggest that low-threshold, voltage-dependent potassium channels in phasic and spike-dependent potassium channels in tonic 2°VNs are important contributors to the differential, yet complementary response characteristics of the two vestibular subtypes. Extension of the cellular model with conductance-based synapses allowed simulation of afferent excitation and evaluation of the emerging properties of local feedforward inhibitory circuits. This approach revealed the relative contributions of intrinsic and synaptic factors on afferent signal processing in phasic 2°VNs. Additional extension of the single-cell model to a population model allowed testing under more natural conditions including asynchronous afferent labyrinthine input and synaptic noise. This latter approach indicated that the feedforward inhibition from the local inhibitory network acts as a high-pass filter, which reinforces the impact of the intrinsic membrane properties of phasic 2°VNs on peak response amplitude and timing. Thus, the combination of cellular and network properties enables phasic 2°VNs to work as a noise-resistant detector, suitable for central processing of short-duration vestibular signals.
No preview · Article · Jun 2011 · The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Head/body motion-related sensory signals are transformed in second-order vestibular neurons (2°VN) into commands for appropriate motor reactions that stabilize gaze and posture during locomotion. In all vertebrates, these neurons form functional subgroups with different membrane properties and response dynamics, compatible with the necessity to process a wide range of motion-related sensory signals. In frog, 2°VN subdivide into two well-defined populations with distinctly different intrinsic membrane properties, discharge dynamics and synaptic response characteristics. Tonic 2°VN form low-pass filters with membrane properties that cause synaptic amplification, whereas phasic 2°VN form band-pass filters that cause shunting of repetitive inputs. The different, yet complementary, filter properties render tonic neurons suitable for integration and phasic neurons for differentiation and event detection. Specific insertion of phasic 2°VN into local vestibular networks of inhibitory interneurons reinforces the functional consequences of the intrinsic membrane properties of this particular cell type with respect to the processing of afferent sensory signals. Thus, the combination of matching intrinsic cellular and emerging network properties generates sets of neuronal elements that form adjustable, frequency-tuned filter components for separate transformation of the various dynamic aspects of head motion-related signals. The overall frequency tuning of central vestibular neurons differs between vertebrates along with variations in species-specific locomotor dynamics, thereby illustrating an ecophysiological plasticity of the involved neuronal elements. Moreover, separation into multiple, dynamically different subtypes at any neuronal level along the vestibulo-motor reflex pathways suggests an organization of head motion-related sensory-motor transformation in parallel, frequency-tuned channels.
No preview · Article · Mar 2011 · Experimental Brain Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Second-order vestibular neurons (2°VN) are the central element for the transformation of body motion-related sensory signals into extraocular motor commands for retinal image stabilization during locomotion. The wide range of motion dynamics necessitates sensory signal transformation in parallel, frequency-tuned channels. Accordingly, in various vertebrates, 2°VN have been shown to form differently tuned functional subgroups. In frog, these neurons subdivide into two separate populations with distinctly different intrinsic membrane properties, discharge dynamics and synaptic response characteristics. Frog tonic 2°VN exhibit low-pass filter characteristics and membrane properties that cause amplification of synaptic inputs, whereas phasic 2°VN form band-pass filters that allow frequency-dependent shunting of repetitive inputs. The differential, yet complementary membrane properties render tonic 2°VN particularly suitable for synaptic integration and phasic 2°VN for differentiation and event detection. Differential insertion of the two cell types into local circuits reinforces the functional consequences of the intrinsic membrane properties, respectively. As a consequence, the synergy of cellular and network properties creates sets of neuronal elements with particular filter characteristics that form flexible, frequency-tuned components for optimal transformation of all dynamic aspects of body motion-related multisensory signals.
Preview · Article · Jan 2011 · Journal of Vestibular Research