A modeling comparison of projection neuron- and neuromodulator-elicited oscillations in a central pattern generating network

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Abstract

Many central pattern generating networks are influenced by synaptic input from modulatory projection neurons. The network response to a projection neuron is sometimes mimicked by bath applying the neuronally-released modulator, despite the absence of network interactions with the projection neuron. One interesting example occurs in the crab stomatogastric ganglion (STG), where bath applying the neuropeptide pyrokinin (PK) elicits a gastric mill rhythm which is similar to that elicited by the projection neuron modulatory commissural neuron 1 (MCN1), despite the absence of PK in MCN1 and the fact that MCN1 is not active during the PK-elicited rhythm. MCN1 terminals have fast and slow synaptic actions on the gastric mill network and are presynaptically inhibited by this network in the STG. These local connections are inactive in the PK-elicited rhythm, and the mechanism underlying this rhythm is unknown. We use mathematical and biophysically-realistic modeling to propose potential mechanisms by which PK can elicit a gastric mill rhythm that is similar to the MCN1-elicited rhythm. We analyze slow-wave network oscillations using simplified mathematical models and, in parallel, develop biophysically-realistic models that account for fast, action potential-driven oscillations and some spatial structure of the network neurons. Our results illustrate how the actions of bath-applied neuromodulators can mimic those of descending projection neurons through mathematically similar but physiologically distinct mechanisms.

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