Biological Cybernetics

, Volume 113, Issue 1–2, pp 71–82 | Cite as

Cellular switches orchestrate rhythmic circuits

  • Guillaume DrionEmail author
  • Alessio Franci
  • Rodolphe Sepulchre
Original Article


Small inhibitory neuronal circuits have long been identified as key neuronal motifs to generate and modulate the coexisting rhythms of various motor functions. Our paper highlights the role of a cellular switching mechanism to orchestrate such circuits. The cellular switch makes the circuits reconfigurable, robust, adaptable, and externally controllable. Without this cellular mechanism, the circuit rhythms entirely rely on specific tunings of the synaptic connectivity, which makes them rigid, fragile, and difficult to control externally. We illustrate those properties on the much studied architecture of a small network controlling both the pyloric and gastric rhythms of crabs. The cellular switch is provided by a slow negative conductance often neglected in mathematical modeling of central pattern generators. We propose that this conductance is simple to model and key to computational studies of rhythmic circuit neuromodulation.


Central pattern generators Neuromodulation Mathematical modeling 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer ScienceUniversity of LiegeLiegeBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Mathematics, Science FacultyNational Autonomous University of MexicoCoyoacánMéxico
  3. 3.Department of EngineeringUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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