Neural circuits underlying jaw movements for the prey-catching behavior in frog: distribution of vestibular afferent terminals on motoneurons supplying the jaw

András Birinyi, Nóra Rácz, Szilvia Kecskes, Clara Matesz, Gabriella Kovalecz

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Coordinated movement of the jaw is essential for catching and swallowing the prey. The majority of the jaw muscles in frogs are supplied by the trigeminal motoneurons. We have previously described that the primary vestibular afferent fibers, conveying information about the movements of the head, established close appositions on the motoneurons of trigeminal nerve providing one of the morphological substrates of monosynaptic sensory modulation of prey-catching behavior in the frog. The aim of our study was to reveal the spatial distribution of vestibular close appositions on the somatodendritic compartments of the functionally different trigeminal motoneurons. In common water frogs, the vestibular and trigeminal nerves were simultaneously labeled with different fluorescent dyes and the possible direct contacts between vestibular afferents and trigeminal motoneurons were identified with the help of DSD2 attached to an Andor Zyla camera. In the rhombencephalon, an overlapping area was detected between the incoming vestibular afferents and trigeminal motoneurons along the whole extent of the trigeminal motor nucleus. The vestibular axon collaterals formed large numbers of close appositions with dorsomedial and ventrolateral dendrites of trigeminal motoneurons. The majority of direct contacts were located on proximal dendritic segments closer than 300 µm to the somata. The identified contacts were evenly distributed on rostral motoneurons innervating jaw-closing muscles and motoneurons supplying jaw-opening muscles and located in the caudal part of trigeminal nucleus. We suggest that the identified contacts between vestibular axon terminals and trigeminal motoneurons may constitute one of the morphological substrates of a very quick response detected in trigeminal motoneurons during head movements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1683-1696
Number of pages14
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2018



  • Brainstem
  • Motor coordination
  • Neuronal labeling
  • Trigeminal nerve
  • Vestibular terminals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Histology

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