The Heartbeat Neural Control System of the Leech

Ronald L. Calabrese

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:
The Heartbeat Neural Control System of the Leech

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Development of the Nervous System


Show Summary Details


In medicinal leeches (Hirudo sp.), heartbeat is an automatic function; it is controlled by a well-studied central pattern generator that has proven to be a useful model system for understanding how complex rhythmic motor acts are programmed and controlled by the central nervous system. The basic timing in the network is set by a two linked half-center oscillators each comprising a pair of mutually inhibitory interneurons. Switch interneurons link the oscillatory kernel with premotor interneurons and program two alternating peristaltic and synchronous patterns of segmental motor neuron activity that in turn program similarly coordinated patterns of constriction in the two tubular hearts. The cellular mechanisms of operation of this pattern generator inform our understanding of the more complex motor networks of vertebrates.

Chapter.  2069 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Development of the Nervous System

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.