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Biological Cybernetics

, Volume 107, Issue 5, pp 565–587 | Cite as

From lamprey to salamander: an exploratory modeling study on the architecture of the spinal locomotor networks in the salamander

  • Andrej BicanskiEmail author
  • Dimitri Ryczko
  • Jean-Marie Cabelguen
  • Auke Jan Ijspeert
Original Paper

Abstract

The evolutionary transition from water to land required new locomotor modes and corresponding adjustments of the spinal “central pattern generators” for locomotion. Salamanders resemble the first terrestrial tetrapods and represent a key animal for the study of these changes. Based on recent physiological data from salamanders, and previous work on the swimming, limbless lamprey, we present a model of the basic oscillatory network in the salamander spinal cord, the spinal segment. Model neurons are of the Hodgkin–Huxley type. Spinal hemisegments contain sparsely connected excitatory and inhibitory neuron populations, and are coupled to a contralateral hemisegment. The model yields a large range of experimental findings, especially the NMDA-induced oscillations observed in isolated axial hemisegments and segments of the salamander Pleurodeles waltlii. The model reproduces most of the effects of the blockade of AMPA synapses, glycinergic synapses, calcium-activated potassium current, persistent sodium current, and \(h\)-current. Driving segments with a population of brainstem neurons yields fast oscillations in the in vivo swimming frequency range. A minimal modification to the conductances involved in burst-termination yields the slower stepping frequency range. Slow oscillators can impose their frequency on fast oscillators, as is likely the case during gait transitions from swimming to stepping. Our study shows that a lamprey-like network can potentially serve as a building block of axial and limb oscillators for swimming and stepping in salamanders.

Keywords

Locomotion Central pattern generator Segmental oscillators Salamander Lamprey 

Notes

Acknowledgments

A. B. receives financial supported from the Swiss initiative in systems biology: SystemsX.ch. J.-M.C. receives grants from the European Community (LAMPETRA Grant: FP7-ICT-2007-1-216100) and the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale (DBC 20101021008). D. R. receives salary support from the Groupe de Recherche sur le Système Nerveux Central (GRSNC) and the Fonds de la Recherche en Santé du Québec (FRSQ). A. J. I. acknowledges support from the European Community (LAMPETRA Grant: FP7-ICT-2007-1-216100). A. B. acknowledges Jeremie Knüsel for critical comments on the manuscript and Daniele Colangelo for IT support; further more Richard Naud, Skander Mensi, Christian Pozzorini and Andrea Prunotto for fruitful discussions.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrej Bicanski
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dimitri Ryczko
    • 2
  • Jean-Marie Cabelguen
    • 3
  • Auke Jan Ijspeert
    • 1
  1. 1.Biorobotics Laboratory, School of EngineeringÉcole Polytechnique Fédérale de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Groupe de Recherche sur le Système Nerveux Central, Département de PhysiologieUniversité de MontréalMontréalCanada
  3. 3.INSERM U862—Neurocentre Magendie, Motor System Diseases Team, Université de BordeauxBordeaux CedexFrance

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