Receptive fields, geometry and conduction block of sensory neurones in the central nervous system of the leech.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

1. In segmental ganglia of the leech, the cutaneous mechanosensory neurones responding to to touch innervated the skin of their own segment and of part of the anterior and posterior adjacent segments. Each touch receptive field could be divided into three non‐overlapping areas: a central part innervated by the branches of the cell which ran in the nerve roots of the ganglion containing the cell body, and anterior and posterior parts innervated by its branches which ran in the nerve roots of the anterior and posterior adjacent ganglia. 2. Impulses originating from the anterior and posterior parts of the receptive fields were susceptible to conduction block within the central nervous system when the touch cells fired repetitively at frequencies that could readily be elicited with weak mechanical stimulation. In contrast, impulses originating from the central part of the receptive fields were less susceptible to block. 3. The morphology of touch cells revealed by intracellular injection of horseradish peroxidase suggested that conduction block occurred at specific bifurcation points where small cell processes joined the main process. Different physiological experiments supported this conclusion. 4. In some touch cells, bifurcation points with particularly low safety margins of conduction operated as low‐pass filters, limiting the frequency of impulses capable of invading certain branches. 5. The results suggest that mechanical stimuli which would likely be encountered by the animal can lead to conduction block within its central nervous system and as a result modify its integrative activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-538
Number of pages26
JournalThe Journal of physiology
Volume263
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 1976

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

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