Protective role of the half-center oscillator connectivity against external perturbations
© Barnett et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013
Published: 8 July 2013
Central pattern generators (CPGs) are neuronal circuits that control rhythmic movements in animals. The heartbeat of the medicinal leech is controlled by a CPG that is distributed over several ganglia. In ganglia 3 and 4, there are half-center oscillators (HCOs): pairs of reciprocally inhibitory heart interneurons (HNs). These HCOs form the kernel of the heartbeat CPG, and each HCO is composed of a pair of endogenously bursting heart interneurons . A canonical model of the HN accurately reproduces experimental results [1, 2]. It also exhibits bistability of bursting and silence in single HNs and the HCO [1, 3]. The single HN and HCO model have been expanded into a family of models that satisfy biological constraints . Multistability is highly prevalent in this database . The coexistence of bursting and silent regimes could present a life threatening condition for the animal. If a perturbation were able to trigger a switch in the activity of the CPG to a silent state, circulation of blood in the leech would be crippled. Our hypothesis is that the HCO connectivity protects functional pattern of activity against an external perturbation.
The authors acknowledge support from NSF grant PHY-0750456.
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