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Antennal Interneurons: Activity Patterns, Active Sensing and Impact on Walking

Antennal Interneurons: Activity Patterns, Active Sensing and Impact on Walking

Supervisor: Dr Berthold Hedwig

Project summary:

Like many other insects, crickets actively explore their near environment with the antennae. Four identified giant interneurons in the brain respond to antennal stimulation and provide a fast pathway forwarding motor commands to the thoracic ganglia. The structure of these neurons is well described but their functional properties in active and passive sensing and control of walking are not yet understood. These antennal interneurons will be recorded in tethered crickets which are standing or walking on a trackball. The response of the neurons during mechanical antennal stimulation and active antennal movements will be analyzed using intracellular recordings, current injection and calcium imaging. We expect that individual neurons will show different activity patterns during passive and active sensing and that activity of the neurons will have a strong effect on the animals walking pattern. 

What the student will be doing:

Training will be provided in intracellular recordings, confocal imaging, neuroanatomical tracing methods, calcium imaging and behavioral studies. The student will learn to use intracellular recording and stimulation techniques and explore the link between neural activity and behavior. 


Zorović M and Hedwig B (2011) Processing of species-specific auditory patterns in the cricket brain by ascending, local and descending neurons during standing and walking. J Neurophysiol 105: 2181–2194

Schöneich S, Schildberger K, Stevenson PA. (2011) Neuronal organization of a fast-mediating cephalothoracic pathway for antennal-tactile information in the cricket (Gryllus bimaculatus DeGeer). J Comp Neurol 519(9):1677–90