Integration of visual stimuli by the crayfish central nervous system

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Integration of visual stimuli by the crayfish central nervous system

Company of Biologists


For the crayfish, properties of visually reacting interneurone types in the optic nerve are described on the basis of single-unit analysis. Sustaining fibres show: (a) ‘surround’ inhibition over the whole retina, including the excitatory field; (b) ‘on’ and ‘off’ effects at field boundaries; (c) a dark discharge in deteriorated preparations; (d) an increase in adapted firing rate and response to flashes in an ‘excited state’ of the preparation; (e) increased overall impulse frequency to fast-moving shadows at frequencies of 2-10/sec. which elicit short bursts. Dimming fibres, having mainly reversed properties, show: (a) bursts followed by adaptation to a lower ferquency level of spikes on light dimming; (b) total inhibition by illumination for times proportional to light intensity; (c) responsiveness to quickly moving shadows. 'Jittery’ movement fibres lack directional sensitivity. For them: (a) total illumination and contrast have, within a wide range, no effect on discharges to moving targets; (b) large, dark cards moved at constant speed are seen only near their visual field boundary; (c) the less predictable the movement of a small dark object is, the longer its excitatory effect lasts; (d) responsiveness of field parts exposed is decreased for long durations; (e) no firing is caused by active or passive eye motions. Space-constant fibres show changed location and size of their excitatory fields with eye position. Their potential visual fields below the horizontal plane are unresponsive, due to inhibition caused mainly by statocyst input. Two eye muscle motor fibres, also under statocyst control, are influenced by light on the limited sensory fields of two pairs of identifiable sustaining fibres. The two motor fibres, which innervate antagonistic muscles, are reversely excited and inhibited by these fields.

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