, Volume 188, Issue 8, pp 621-630

Lateral giant fibre activation of exopodite motor neurones in the crayfish tailfan

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The uropods of decapod crustaceans play a major role in the production of thrust during escape swimming. Here we analyse the output connections of a pair of giant interneurones, that mediate and co-ordinate swimming tail flips, on motor neurones that control the exopodite muscles of the uropods. The lateral giants make short latency output connections with phasic uropod motor neurones, including the productor, the lateral abductor and adductor exopodite motor neurones that we have identified both physiologically and anatomically. On the other hand, tonic motor neurones, including the ventral abductor and reductor exopodite motor neurones, receive no input from the lateral giants. We show that there is no simple reciprocal activation of the phasic opener (lateral abductor) and closer (adductor) motor neurones of the exopodite, but instead both phasic motor neurones are activated in parallel with the productor motor neurone during a tail flip. Our results show that the neuronal pathways activating the tonic and phasic motor neurones of the exopodite are apparently independent, with phasic motor neurones being activated during escape movements and tonic motor neurones being activated during slow postural movements.