Neural mechanisms underlying the generation of the lobster gastric mill motor pattern

Allen I. Selverston, Attila Szücs, Ramon Huerta, Reynaldo Pinto, Marcelo Reyes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


The lobster gastric mill central pattern generator (CPG) is located in the stomatogastric ganglion and consists of 11 neurons whose circuitry is well known. Because all of the neurons are identifiable and accessible, it can serve as a prime experimental model for analyzing how microcircuits generate multiphase oscillatory spatiotemporal patterns. The neurons that comprise the gastric mill CPG consist of one interneuron, five burster neurons and six tonically firing neurons. The single interneuron (Int 1) is shared by the medial tooth subcircuit (containing the AM, DG and GMs) and the lateral teeth subcircuit (LG, MG and LPGs). By surveying cellto- cell connections and the cooperative dynamics of the neurons we find that the medial subcircuit is essentially a feed forward system of oscillators. The Int 1 neuron entrains the DG and AM cells by delayed excitation and this pair then periodically inhibits the tonically firing GMs causing them to burst. The lateral subcircuit consists of two negative feedback loops of reciprocal inhibition from Int 1 to the LG/MG pair and from the LG/MG to the LPGs. Following a fast inhibition from Int 1, the LG/MG neurons receive a slowly developing excitatory input similar to that which Int 1 puts onto DG/AM. Thus Int 1 plays a key role in synchronizing both subcircuits. This coordinating role is assisted by additional, weaker connections between the two subsets but those are not sufficient to synchronize them in the absence of Int 1. In addition to the experiments, we developed a conductance-based model of a slightly simplified gastric circuit. The mathematical model can reproduce the fundamental rhythm and many of the experimentally induced perturbations. Our findings shed light on the functional role of every cell and synapse in this small circuit providing a detailed understanding of the rhythm generation and pattern formation in the gastric mill network.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
JournalFrontiers in neural circuits
Issue numberOCT
Publication statusPublished - Oct 30 2009



  • Bursting
  • Central pattern generator
  • Lobster
  • Neural circuits
  • Oscillatory circuits
  • Stomatogastric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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