Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 156, Issue 6, pp 817–821 | Cite as

The effects of temperature on action potential encoding in the cockroach tactile spine

  • A. S. French


  1. 1.

    The effect of temperature was observed on the encoding of action potentials from membrane current in the sensory neuron of the cockroach tactile spine. Electrical stimulation was employed, with the tip of a current-passing microelectrode adjacent to the axon where it leaves the soma. Action potentials were detected by extracellular electrodes placed further along the axon.

  2. 2.

    The dynamic properties of encoding were studied by measuring the frequency response function between randomly varying input current and the resulting train of action potentials.

  3. 3.

    Temperature was carefully controlled by mounting the preparation on a thermoelectric servo-controlled stage. The temperature sensor was a fine thermocouple placed against the wall of the tactile spine and within the same pool of saline solution.

  4. 4.

    Temperatures in the range 10 to 35 °C were used. Temperatures outside this range caused failure of action potential production or conduction. The sensitivity of the encoder to electric current did not change appreciably with temperature, but there was an increase in the response to higher frequencies as the temperature was raised, representing more rapid adaptation.

  5. 5.

    Comparison with earlier work on transduction of mechanical stimuli indicates that generation of the receptor current is the step with the most thermal sensitivity.

  6. 6.

    Conduction velocity in the afferent axon increased with temperature by amounts which agree with previous findings and predictions. The mean rate of firing in the receptor increased strongly with temperature, but the reasons for this are not clear.



Electrical Stimulation Sensory Neuron Temperature Sensor Conduction Velocity Potential Production 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abrams TW, Pearson KG (1982) Effects of temperature on identified central neurons that control jumping in the grasshopper. J Neurosci 2:1538–1553Google Scholar
  2. Bohnenberger J (1981) Matched transfer characteristics of single units in a compound slit sense organ. J Comp Physiol 142:391–402Google Scholar
  3. Bolanowski SJ, Verrillo RT (1982) Temperature and criterion effects in a somatosensory subsystem: a neurophysiological and psychophysical study. J Neurophysiol 48:837–856Google Scholar
  4. Burkhardt D (1959a) Effect of temperature on isolated stretchreceptor organ of the crayfish. Science 199:392–393Google Scholar
  5. Burkhardt D (1959b) Die Erregungsvorgänge sensibler Ganglienzellen in Abhängigkeit von der Temperatur. Biol Zentralbl 78:23–62Google Scholar
  6. Chapman KM, Pankhurst JH (1967) Conduction velocities and their temperature coefficients in sensory nerve fibres of cockroach legs. J Exp Biol 46:63–84Google Scholar
  7. Chapman KM, Smith RS (1963) A linear transfer function underlying impulse frequency modulation in a cockroach mechanoreceptor. Nature 197:699–701Google Scholar
  8. Chesler M, Fourtner CR (1981) Mechanical properties of a slow muscle in the cockroach. J Neurobiol 12:391–402Google Scholar
  9. Duruz C, Baumann F (1968) Influence de la température sur le potentiel récepteur d'une cellule photoréceptrice. Helv Physiol Acta 26:341–342Google Scholar
  10. French AS (1973) Automated spectral analysis of neurophysiological data using intermediate magnetic tape storage. Comput Programs Biomed 3:45–57Google Scholar
  11. French AS (1984a) Action potential adaptation in the femoral tactile spine of the cockroach,Periplaneta americana. J Comp Physiol A 155:803–812Google Scholar
  12. French AS (1984b) The receptor potential and adaptation in the cockroach tactile spine. J Neurosci 4:2063–2068Google Scholar
  13. French AS, Holden AV (1971) Alias-free sampling of neuronal spike trains. Kybernetik 8:165–171Google Scholar
  14. French AS, Kuster JE (1982) The effects of temperature on mechanotransduction in the cockroach tactile spine. J Comp Physiol 147:251–258Google Scholar
  15. French AS, Sanders EJ (1981) The mechanosensory apparatus of the femoral tactile spine of the cockroach,Periplaneta americana. Cell Tissue Res 219:53–68Google Scholar
  16. French AS, Holden AV, Stein RB (1972) The estimation of the frequency response function of a mechanoreceptor. Kybernetik 11:15–23Google Scholar
  17. Heitler WJ, Goodman CS, Rowell CHF (1977) The effects of temperature on the threshold of identified neurons in the locust. J Comp Physiol 117:163–182Google Scholar
  18. Huxley AF (1959) Ion movements during nerve activity. Ann N Y Acad Sci 81:221–246Google Scholar
  19. Ishiko N, Loewenstein WR (1961) Effects of temperature on the generator and action potentials of a sense organ. J Gen Physiol 45:105–124Google Scholar
  20. Marmarelis PZ, Marmarelis VZ (1978) Analysis of physiological systems, the white noise approach. Plenum Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Moser H, Ottoson D, Rydqvist B (1979) Step-like shifts in membrane potential in the stretch receptor neuron of the crayfish (Astacus fluviatilis) at high temperatures. J Comp Physiol 133:257–265Google Scholar
  22. Murphy BF, Heath JE (1983) Temperature sensitivity in the prothoracic ganglion of the cockroach,Periplaneta americana, and its relationship to thermoregulation. J Exp Biol 105:305–315Google Scholar
  23. Necker R (1973) Temperature sensitivity of thermoreceptors and mechanoreceptors on the beak of pigeons. J Comp Physiol 87:379–391Google Scholar
  24. Stephens PJ, Atwood H (1982) Thermal acclimation in a crustacean neuromuscular system. J Exp Biol 98:39–47Google Scholar
  25. Thurm U, Wessel G (1979) Metabolism-dependent transepithelial potential differences at epidermal receptors of arthropods. J Comp Physiol 134:119–130Google Scholar
  26. West CHK, Lent CM (1974) Effects of temperature upon the electrophysiology of Retzius cells in the leech. Comp Biochem Physiol 47A:27–38Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. S. French
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

Personalised recommendations