The nonlinear dynamics of the mechanoelectrical transduction in an arthropod mechanoreceptor (cuticular slit sense organ of the spider Cupiennius salei) were studied using Volterra kernel measurements and the recently proposed method of principal dynamic modes. Since mechanoreceptors must operate with sufficient gain sensitivity to rapidly varying displacement stimuli over a broad bandwidth and for a wide range of amplitudes, the experimental data were generated by applying pseudorandom broadband mechanical displacements of various mean levels to the cuticular slits. The recorded response data were intracellular current and potential. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the use of the principal dynamic mode (PDM) methodology in elucidating the nonlinear dynamics of a spider mechanoreceptor. The results obtained demonstrate that two PDMs suffice to provide a complete nonlinear dynamic model of this insect mechanoreceptor. The first PDM resembles the first-order kernel and has a low pass characteristic (position dependent), while the second PDM has a high-pass characteristic (velocity-dependent) and resides entirely in the second-order kernel (nonlinear adaptation). This study may serve as an example of the proper use of this new methodology for the analysis of nonlinear physiological systems.
PAC99: 8719Bb, 8719Nn, 8716Uv