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Information processing in the femur-tibia control loop of stick insects

1. The response characteristics of two nonspiking interneurons result from parallel excitatory and inhibitory inputs


The complicated response characteristics of the identified nonspiking interneuron type E4 upon elongation stimuli to the femoral chordotonal organ (fCO) can be obtained by a computer simulation using the neuronal network simulator BioSim, if the following assumptions were introduced: (1) The interneurons receive direct excitatory input from position- and velocity-sensitive fCO afferents but also, in parallel delayed inhibition from the same velocity-sensitive afferents. (2) Position-sensitive afferents in part show adaptation with a rather long time-constant. A subsequent experimental analysis demonstrated that all these assumptions fit the reality: (1) Interneurons of type E4 receive direct excitatory input from fCO afferents. (2) Interneurons of type E4 are affected by velocity dependent delayed inhibitory inputs from the fCO. (3) The fCO does contain adapting position-sensitive sensory neurons, which have not been described before. The described principle of the information processing is also able to generate the response in interneurons of type E6 with less steep amplitude-velocity characteristic due to a different weighting of the direct excitation and delayed inhibition.

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excitatory postsynaptic potential

FETi :

fast extensor tibiae motor neuron

fCO :

femoral chordotonal organ

FT-control loop :

femur-tibia control loop


inhibitory postsynaptic potential

SETi :

slow extensor tibiae motor neuron


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Sauer, A.E., Driesang, R.B., Büschges, A. et al. Information processing in the femur-tibia control loop of stick insects. J Comp Physiol A 177, 145–158 (1995).

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Key words

  • Nonspiking interneuron
  • Neuronal network
  • Posture control
  • Simulation
  • Parliamentary principle