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Mapping neural connections within the brain allows us to understand not only how it is organized, but also how it functions. By studying the individual neurons which comprise these neural circuits, we are able to determine how activity at the cellular level translates into a specified process or behavior. The Mauthner cells, which initiate a characteristic startle behavior in teleost fish and amphibians, are ideal subjects for the study of sensorimotor networks and neural plasticity. I used a fluorescent retrograde dye to label neurons involved in locomotion in the hindbrain of Xenopus laevis tadpoles. The Mauthner cells, reticulospinal cells, and vestibulospinal cells in the hindbrain were labeled, as well as cells in the nucleus of the Medial Longitudinal Fasciculus in the midbrain. I created guide images for future electrophysiological experiments from brightfield and confocal images of the brains, and made measurements to further describe the location of these cell populations within the brain. The results of this study serve as a starting point for research that builds on the existing body of knowledge about the Mauthner cells, and examines how other motor cells in the mid- and hind- brain of Xenopus are involved in discrete behaviors.
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Woolner, Clara Evelyn, "Mapping Sensorimotor Circuits in the Hindbrain of Xenopus laevis Tadpoles" (2016). Senior Projects Spring 2016. 75.
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