In the absence of external stimuli, animals explore the environment by performing irregular movements, but the neuronal mechanisms underlying this arrhythmic motion are largely unknown. In this paper, we studied the relationship between the spontaneous neuronal activity in the leech (Hirudo medicinalis) and its behavior. We analyzed the electrical activity of isolated ganglia, chains of two connected ganglia, and semi-intact preparations. The spontaneous electrical activity in ganglia was characterized by the occurrence of irregular bursts of spikes with variable duration and size. Properties of these bursts weremodified by synaptic inputs arriving from the neighboring ganglia and from the two primitive brains located in the head and tail. In fact, in semi-intact preparations, unusually large bursts of spikes occurring spontaneously were recorded and caused the leech to move even in the absence of any external sensory stimulation. These large bursts appear to act as internal triggers controlling the spontaneous leech behavior and determining the duration of stereotypical motor patterns. © 2007 Garcia-Perez, Mazzoni and Torre.
Spontaneous electrical activity and behavior in the leech hirudo medicinalis / GARCIA PEREZ, E; Mazzoni, A; Torre, Vincent. - In: FRONTIERS IN INTEGRATIVE NEUROSCIENCE. - ISSN 1662-5145. - 1:30 November(2007), pp. 1-9. [10.3389/neuro.07.008.2007]