Rogers, Stephen M. and Newland, Philip L.
Gustatory processing in thoracic local circuits of locusts
Journal of Neuroscience, 22, (18), .
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Recent reviews highlight a longstanding controversy about how
different taste qualities are coded in the CNS. To address this
issue, we have analyzed gustatory coding in the relatively simple
and accessible nervous system of the locust, in which neural responses and gustatory elicited behavior are readily comparable.
The intracellular responses of a population of spiking local interneurons in the metathoracic ganglion that receive monosynaptic inputs from chemosensory afferents were analyzed in response to stimulation with droplets of four
behaviorally relevant chemicals: sodium chloride, sucrose, lysine glutamate, and nicotine hydrogen tartrate. There was a
significant positive correlation between chemical concentration
and response duration and the number of spikes evoked in
81% of interneurons sampled.
The threshold of sensitivity to different chemicals varied but was consistent between all interneurons tested, being most sensitive to nicotine hydrogen tartrate and least sensitive to sucrose. Each interneuron responded similarly to specific chemicals at single concentrations. Interneurons that responded phasically to one chemical responded similarly to others, whereas interneurons that responded phasotonically to one stimulus also did so to others.
Hindleg motor neurons also responded in a concentration-dependent manner to all test chemicals. Therefore, we found no interneurons or motor neurons that responded only to specific chemicals. We discuss the responses of the local circuit neurons in relation to the known chemically evoked behavioral responses of locusts and suggest that theaversiveness of a chemical, rather than its identity, is encoded directly in the local circuits.
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