Despite numerous physiological studies about reflexes in the spinal cord, the contribution of mechanosensory feedback to active locomotion and the nature of underlying spinal circuits remains elusive. Here we investigate how mechanosensory feedback shapes active locomotion in a genetic model organism exhibiting simple locomotion—the zebrafish larva. We show that mechanosensory feedback enhances the recruitment of motor pools during active locomotion. Furthermore, we demonstrate that inputs from mechanosensory neurons increase locomotor speed by prolonging fast swimming at the expense of slow swimming during stereotyped acoustic escape responses. This effect could be mediated by distinct mechanosensory neurons. In the spinal cord, we show that connections compatible with monosynaptic inputs from mechanosensory Rohon-Beard neurons onto ipsilateral V2a interneurons selectively recruited at high speed can contribute to the observed enhancement of speed. Altogether, our study reveals the basic principles and a circuit diagram enabling speed modulation by mechanosensory feedback in the vertebrate spinal cord.
- Claire Wyart
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: All procedures were approved by the Institutional Ethics Committee at the Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière (ICM), Paris, France, the Ethical Committee Charles Darwin and received subsequent approval from the EEC (2010/63/EU).
- Ronald L Calabrese, Reviewing Editor, Emory University, United States
© 2017, Wyart et al
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