Chapter

The Mauthner Cell Microcircuits: Sensory Integration, Decision Making, and Motor Functions

Donald S. Faber and Henri Korn

in Handbook of Brain Microcircuits

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780195389883
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199965137 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/med/9780195389883.003.0033
The Mauthner Cell Microcircuits: Sensory Integration, Decision Making, and Motor Functions

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The Mauthner (M-) cell is the central decision-making neuron that triggers the startle reaction of fish and amphibians, evoked by sudden or threatening stimuli. This chapter describes how the wiring diagram of the presynaptic and output networks and the properties of this neuron act together to guarantee only powerful excitations bring the M-cell to threshold and induce the escape behavior (the C-start in fish). A dominant inhibition, both electrical and chemical, and plasticity of all input synapses, including ones that are latent, are essential for continuously adjusting the behavioral threshold. Excitation and inhibition are phase-locked during the acoustic startle, a feature that could shape response directionality. The chapter gives an overview of the recently studied visual evoked C-start, and of synaptic noise, which combines periodic oscillations in the gamma range with non-random chaotic-like patterns.

Chapter.  3235 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Development of the Nervous System

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