Comparison of directional selectivity in identified spiking and nonspiking mechanosensory neurons in the crayfish Orconectes limosus

Jürgen Tautz, Mark R. Plummer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We have recorded electrical activity from two identified synaptically coupled mechanosensory interneurons in the abdominal nervous system of the crayfish Orconectes limosus and have studied their responses to constant- velocity water-jet stimuli presented from different directions. The two neurons, the ascending caudal photoreceptor (CPR) and the local directionally selective neuron, responded preferentially to stimuli delivered ipsilaterally to their dendritic input regions. Both neurons featured responses consisting of a phasic excitatory 'on' response and a tonic depolarizing plateau. The different response components showed various degrees of directional selectivity: The initial 'on' peak of the response was the least sensitive and the plateau was the most sensitive to stimulus direction. The CPR showed a sharp cut-off in responsiveness to contralateral stimuli, whereas the local directionally selective neuron showed a more gradual decrease in its directional responsiveness. This difference is a consequence of the feed- forward lateral inhibition that the local directionally selective neuron exerts on the CPR and of the threshold for initiation of action potentials in the CPR. A comparison of the spiking response of the CPR with its generator potential shows that the number and frequency of action potentials are a more sensitive indicator of directional preference than the generator potential response. The directional characteristic of the CPR is discussed as a filter matched to a specific spatial aspect of biologically relevant water movements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5853-5857
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jun 21 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • directionality
  • mechanoreception
  • stimulus coding


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