We are interested in how animals produce different versions of behaviors. For example, what are the signals that an animal should walk instead of run, or that food consistency has changed and different versions of chewing are required? We aim to understand the changes in properties of individual neurons and their synaptic connections that enable the same neural circuits to produce different motor outputs, and thus different versions of behaviors. To address these questions we use the stomatogastric nervous system of the Jonah crab, Cancer borealis.
Ongoing research includes determining (1) the role of circuit feedback to circuit inputs, (2) how the same modulator acts simultaneously at multiple sites, (3) how the release of neuromodulators is controlled, and (4) the cellular and synaptic mechanisms underlying switching between different motor outputs. We address these questions at multiple levels from single neurons to circuits to muscle activity patterns.
Listen to an extracellular nerve recording which monitors the pyloric rhythm.The pyloric rhythm is a three phase rhythm which controls the rhythmic filtering behavior of the crab foregut.
See crabs being fed.
See crab muscles disappearing to a holiday tune.
See the teeth moving inside the crab stomach during a POC type gastric mill (chewing) rhythm.