Possible neural network mediating jaw opening during prey-catching behavior of the frog

Gabriella Kovalecz, Szilvia Kecskes, András Birinyi, Clara Matesz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The prey-catching behavior of the frog is a complex, well-timed sequence of stimulus response chain of movements. After visual analysis of the prey, a size dependent program is selected in the motor pattern generator of the brainstem. Besides this predetermined feeding program, various direct and indirect sensory inputs provide flexible adjustment for the optimal contraction of the executive muscles. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether trigeminal primary afferents establish direct contacts with the jaw opening motoneurons innervated by the facial nerve. The experiments were carried out on Rana esculenta (Pelophylax esculentus), where the trigeminal and facial nerves were labeled simultaneously with different fluorescent dyes. Using a confocal laser scanning microscope, close appositions were detected between trigeminal afferent fibers and somatodendritic components of the facial motoneurons. Quantitative analysis revealed that the majority of close contacts were encountered on the dendrites of facial motoneurons and approximately 10% of them were located on the perikarya. We suggest that the identified contacts between the trigeminal afferents and facial motoneurons presented here may be one of the morphological substrate in the feedback and feedforward modulation of the rapidly changing activity of the jaw opening muscle during the prey-catching behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-24
Number of pages6
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Brainstem
  • Neurolucida reconstruction
  • Neuronal labeling
  • Nucleus nervi facialis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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