Date of Submission
Academic Programs and Concentrations
Biology; Mind, Brain & Behavior
Project Advisor 1
The startle response is a reflexive behavior exhibited by animals as a reaction to threatening stimuli, such as a loud noise or sudden movement. Fish and amphibians exhibit a distinct startle behavior known as a “C-start” that allows them to swim in the opposite direction of a sensory stimulus in order to escape. This action is mediated, in part, by a pair of hindbrain neurons called M-cells. Along with other hindbrain neurons, M-cells relay information from sensory systems to the spinal cord where a motor output is produced. Here, we recorded local field potentials generated by the M-cells and neighboring neurons in the Xenopus laevis tadpole in order to understand the activity of local circuits surrounding the M-cell when it receives visual input from the optic tectum. We described 5 major components of the local field potentials that may correspond to activity from different populations of neurons. We also used pharmacological blockers to determine the influence of different types of transmission on the components. Finally, we looked at the effects of behavioral plasticity on these five components, and showed that habituation to acoustic stimuli had an effect on the mean amplitudes of them. This suggests that these networks may be involved in modulating M-cell activity in response to prolonged sensory stimulation. All together, our findings help us better understand the local circuitry involved in startle response in tadpoles, and how the activity of this circuitry is shaped by behavioral plasticity.
Open Access Agreement
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Marvel, Sadie Rose, "Mechanisms of the Startle Response: Characterizing Local Field Potentials Recorded from the M-cell Network in the Xenopus Tadpole" (2018). Senior Projects Spring 2018. 18.