Synaptic convergence of afferent inputs in primary infraredsensitive nucleus (LTTD) neurons of rattlesnakes (Crotalinae) as the origin for sensory contrast enhancement

Maximilian S. Bothe, Harald Luksch, Hans Straka, Tobias Kohl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Pitvipers have a specialized sensory system in the upper jaw to detect infrared (IR) radiation. The bilateral pit organs resemble simple pinhole cameras that map IR objects onto the sensory epithelium as blurred representations of the environment. Trigeminal afferents transmit information about changing temperature patterns as neuronal spike discharge in a topographic manner to the hindbrain nucleus of the lateral descending trigeminal tract (LTTD). A presumed, yet so far unknown neuronal connectivity within this central nucleus exerts a synaptic computation that constrains the relatively large receptive field of primary afferent fibers. Here, we used intracellular recordings of LTTD neurons in isolated rattlesnake brains to decipher the spatio-temporal pattern of excitatory and inhibitory responses following electrical stimulation of single and multiple peripheral pit organ-innervating nerve branches. The responses of individual neurons consisted of complex spike sequences that derived from spatially and temporally specific interactions between excitatory and inhibitory synaptic inputs from the same as well as from adjacent peripheral nerve terminal areas. This pattern complies with a central excitation that is flanked by a delayed lateral inhibition, thereby enhancing the contrast of IR sensory input, functionally reminiscent of the computations for contrast enhancement in the peripheral visual system.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberjeb.185611
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume221
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2018

Keywords

  • Contrast enhancement
  • EPSP
  • IPSP
  • Organotopic organization
  • Pit organ

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