, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 15–26 | Cite as

Morphological parameters of mauthner neurons of goldfishes with modified asymmetry of motor behavior

  • G. Z. Mikhailova
  • N. R. Tiras
  • V. D. Pavlik
  • I. M. Santalova
  • E. E. Grigorieva
  • D. A. Moshkov


We examined the morphological peculiarities of Mauthner neurons, MNs, in goldfishes with a phenotypically different or an experimentally modified preference to perform rightward vs leftward turnings in the course of motor behavior; this preference was characterized by values of the motor asymmetry coefficient (MAC). 3D reconstruction of MNs was performed based on several histological sections; volumes of the soma, lateral and ventral dendrites (LD and VD, respectively), initial segment of the axon, as well as full volumes of the right and left neurons, were calculated. Differences between the above parameters were expressed as structural asymmetry coefficients (SACs). It was shown that clear orientation asymmetry of motor behavior of the fish is accompanied by differences in the dimensions of MNs and their compartments; MNs localized contralaterally with respect to the preferred turning side were considerably bigger than ipsilateral neurons. Experimental influences inducing inversion of the motor asymmetry of fishes inverted structural asymmetry of their MNs. In fishes with no phenotypical preference of the turning side and in individuals whose motor asymmetry was smoothed due to experimental influences (rotational stimulations), structural asymmetry of the MNs was also smoothed. Changes of the structural proportions developed, as a rule, due to decreases in the dimensions of one or both MNs and their compartments. The MAC value was in direct correlation with the value of SAC of the MNs and with values of this coefficient for the soma and the sum soma + LD. At the same time, reciprocal relations were found for the MAC and structural asymmetry of the VD; the decrease in the volume of VD was related to an increase in the preference of the contralateral turning side by the fish, and vice versa. In general, the results of our study demonstrate that both morphological and functional peculiarities of MNs correlate to a significant extent with such a form of motor behavior of fishes as realization of spontaneous turnings.


Mauthner neurons 3D reconstruction structural asymmetry asymmetry of motor behavior of fishes 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    R. C. Eaton and D. S. Emberley, “How stimulus direction determines the trajectory of the Mauthner-initiated escape response in a teleost fish,” J. Exp. Biol., 161, No. 3, 469–487 (1991).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    J. G. Canfield and G. J. Rose, “Activation of Mauthner neurons during prey capture,” J. Comp. Physiol., Ser. A, 172, No. 7, 611–618 (1993).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    S. J. Zottoli, “Correlation of the startle-reflex and Mauthner cell auditory responses in unrestrained goldfish,” J. Exp. Biol., 178, No. 3, 741–758 (1977).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    T. Furukawa and E. P. Furshpan, “Two inhibitory mechanisms in the Mauthner neurons of the goldfish,” J. Neurophysiol., 26, No. 2, 140–176 (1963).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    J. W. Scott, S. J. Zottoli, N. P. Beatty, and H. Korn, “Origin and function of spiral fibers projecting to the goldfish Mauthner cell,” J. Comp. Neurol., 339, No. 1, 76–90 (1994).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    D. A. Moshkov, Adaptation and Ultrastructure of Neurons [in Russian], Nauka, Moscow (1985).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    D. A. Moshkov, L. K. Pavlik, N. R. Tiras, et al., “Ultrastructural changes in the mixed synapses of Mauthner neurons related to long-term potentiation and natural modification of the motor function,” Neurophysiology, 35, No. 5, 361–370 (2003).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    G. Z. Mikhailova, A. V. Arutyunyan, I. M. Santalova, et al., “Asymmetry of motor behavior of the goldfish in a narrow channel,” Neurophysiology, 37, No. 1, 48–55 (2005).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    G. Z. Mikhailova, V. D. Pavlik, N. R. Tiras, and D. A. Moshkov, “Correlation of the dimensions of Mauthner neurons with the preference of goldfishes to rightward vs leftward turnings,” Morfologiya, 127, No. 2, 16–19 (2005).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    J. M. Moulton and S. E. Barron, “Asymmetry in the Mauthner cells of the goldfish brain,” Copeia, 4, No. 6, 836–837 (1967).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    C. Tailby, L. L. Wright, A. B. Metha, et al., “Activity-dependent maintenance and growth of dendrites in adult cortex,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 102, No. 12, 4631–4636 (2005).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    D. K. Ryugo, M. M. Wu, and T. Pongstaporn, “Activity-related features of synapse morphology: a study of endbulbs of held,” J. Comp. Neurol., 365, No. 3, 141–158 (1996).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    G. Z. Mikhailova, N. R. Tiras, E. E. Grigor’eva, and D. A. Moshkov, “Rotational stimulation-related changes of the motor asymmetry in the goldfish,” Neurophysiology, 37, Nos. 5/6, 379–387 (2005).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    S. J. Zottoli and D. S. Faber, “Properties and distribution or anterior VIII nerve excitatory inputs to the goldfish Mauthner cell,” Brain Res., 174, No. 5, 319–323 (1979).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ch. B. Kimmel, S. L. Powell, and R. J. Kimmel, “Specific reduction of development of the Mauthner neuron lateral dendrite after otic capsule ablation in Brachyodanio rerio,” Dev. Biol., 91, No. 2, 468–473 (1982).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    J. C. Fiala and K. M. Harris, “Computer-based alignment and reconstruction of serial sections,” Eur. Microsc. Anal., 75, No. 1, 17–19 (2002).Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    H. Korn and D. S. Faber, “The Mauthner cell half a century later: a neurobiological model for decision-making?” Neuron, 47, No. 1, 13–28 (2005).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    A. Bisazza, L. J. Rogers, and G. Vallortigara, “Possible evolutionary origins of cognitive brain lateralization,” Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev., 22, No. 3, 411–426 (1998).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    G. Vallortigara, “Comparative neuropsychology of the dual brain: a stroll through animals’ left and right perceptual worlds,” Brain Language, 73, No. 2, 189–219 (2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    M. A. Kharitoniva, É. N. Levina, and Yu. A. Rovenskii, “Cytoskeletal control of the regulation of the length of cells,” Ontogenez, 33, No. 1, 50–59 (2002).Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    D. A. Moshkov, N. F. Mukhtasimova, L. L. Pavlik, et al., “In vitro long-term potentiation of elecrotonic responses of the goldfish Mauthner cells is accompanied by ultrastructural changes at afferent mixed synapses,” Neuroscience, 87, No. 3, 591–605 (1998).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    I. B. Mikheeva, N. R. Tiras, D. A. Moshkov, et al., “Desmosoma-like contacts as targets for the action of scorpion venom,” Tsitologiya, 42, No. 7, 635–646 (2000).Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    D. A. Moshkov, L. N. Saveljeva, G. V. Yanjushina, and V. A. Funtikov, “Structural and neurochemical changes in the cytoskeleton of the goldfish Mauthner cells at different functional states,” Acta Histochem., 41, Suppl., 241–247 (1992).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    N. R. Tiras, I. B. Mikheeva, P. I. Pakhotin, et al., “Morphofunctional modifications of incubated Mauthner neurons of the goldfish under the influence of scorpion venom,” Morfologiya, 123, No. 3, 40–45 (2003).Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    N. R. Tiras, S. N. Udal’tsov, G. Z. Mikhailova, and D. A. Moshkov, “Peptides interacting with actin: identification in the scorpion venom using electron microscopy,” Biol. Membr., 20, No. 1, 72–76 (2003).Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    G. Z. Mikhailova, N. V. Oreshkin, R. Sh. Shtanchaev, et al., “A morphofunctional study of right and left Mauthner neurons in relation to the motor asymmetry of goldfishes,” in: Problems of Neurocybernetics (Proc. of the 14th Internat. Conf. on Neurocybernetics), Vol. 2, OOO TsVVR, Rostov-on-Don (2005), pp. 186–191.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    O. S. Vinogradova, “Neuroscience at the end of the 2nd millennium: a change of paradigms,” Zh. Vyssh. Nerv. Deyat., 50, No. 5, 743–774 (2000).Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    A. M. Thomson, “Facilitation, augmentation and potentiation at central synapses,” Trends Neurosci., 23, No. 7, 305–312 (2000).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    D. A. Moshkov and L. L. Pavlik, “Ultrastructural mechanisms of long-term potentiation of synaptic transmission,” Zh. Vyssh. Nerv. Deyat., 54, No. 1, 44–58 (2004).Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    J. G. Canfield and G. J. Rose, “Hierarchical sensory guidance of Mauthner-mediated escape responses in goldfish (Carassius auratus) and cichlids (Haplochromis burtoni),” Brain, Behav., Evolut., 48, No. 2, 137–156 (1996).Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    A. Bisazza and G. Vallortigara, “Rotational bias in mosquitofish (Gambusia hoolbrooki): the role of lateralization and sun-compass navigation,” Laterality, 1, No. 2, 161–175 (1996).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    S. M. Korogod, I. B. Kulagina, G. Horcholle-Bossavit, et al., “Activity-dependent reconfiguration of the effective dendritic field of motoneurons,” J. Comp. Neurol., 422, No. 1, 18–34 (2000).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    H. Bras, F. Lahjouji, S. M. Korogod, et al., “Heterogeneous synaptic covering and differential charge transfer sensitivity among the dendrites of a reconstructed abducens motor neuron: correlations between electron microscopic and computer simulation data,” J. Neurocytol., 32, No. 1, 5–24 (2003).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    J. R. Meyers, E. H. Copanas, and S. J. Zottoli, “Comparison of fast startle responses between two elongate bony fish with an anguilliform type of locomotion and the implications for the underlying neuronal basis of escape behavior,” Brain, Behav., Evolut., 52, No. 1, 7–22 (1998).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    R. C. Eaton, J. C. Hofve, and J. R. Fetcho, “Beating the competition: the reliability hypothesis for Mauthner axon size,” Brain, Behav., Evolut., 45, No. 2, 183–194 (1998).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Z. Mikhailova
    • 1
  • N. R. Tiras
    • 1
    • 2
  • V. D. Pavlik
    • 1
  • I. M. Santalova
    • 1
  • E. E. Grigorieva
    • 2
  • D. A. Moshkov
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics of the RANPushchino, Moscow districtRussia
  2. 2.Pushchino State UniversityRussia

Personalised recommendations