Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 172, Issue 5, pp 611–618

Activation of Mauthner neurons during prey capture

  • J. G. Canfield
  • G. J. Rose
Article

Abstract

The Mauthner (M-) cells, a bilateral pair of medullary neurons in fish, initiate the characteristic “C-start” predatory escape response of teleosts. Similar movements have been described during hatching, social interactions, and feeding. M-cell firing, however, has not been correlated directly with these other behaviors. The objective of this study was to determine whether the M-cell, in addition to escape, plays a role in feeding.
  1. 1.

    Goldfish were chronically implanted with electrodes positioned near the axon cap of one of the two M-cells. Subsequently, M-cell activity was monitored for up to 8 days while fish were surface feeding on live crickets.

     
  2. 2.

    The M-cell fires and the fish performs a C-shaped flexion in association with the terminal phase of prey capture. Thus, the M-cell is active in the context of at least two behaviors, predator escape and prey capture, and may be considered a part of behaviorally shared neural circuitry.

     
  3. 3.

    For the goldfish, Mauthner-initiated flexions during feeding rapidly remove the prey from the water's surface and minimizes the fish's own susceptibility to surface predation. Other species may possess a diverse repertoire of Mauthner-mediated feeding behaviors that depend on their adaptive specializations for predation. Moreover, group competition between predators and their prey may have facilitated a “neural arms race” for M-cell morphology and physiology.

     

Key words

Mauthner cell Prey capture Behavioral multifunction Escape neuron Shared circuitry Neu ral arms race 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. G. Canfield
    • 1
  • G. J. Rose
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

Personalised recommendations