Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 223, Issue 4, pp 1683–1696 | Cite as

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
Original Article


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.


Brainstem Trigeminal nerve Vestibular terminals Motor coordination Neuronal labeling 



The authors thank Ms Timea Horvath for skillful technical assistance.

Compliance with ethical standards

The manuscript does not contain clinical studies or patient data.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Grant sponsor

This research was supported by financial aid from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA-TKI 11,008) and from the Hungarian National Research Found (OTKA K115471).


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary
  2. 2.Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, Faculty of DentistryUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary
  3. 3.MTA-DE Neuroscience Research GroupUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary
  4. 4.Department of Oral Anatomy, Faculty of DentistryUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary

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