William B. Kristan

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We investigated decision-making in the leech nervous system by stimulating identical sensory inputs that sometimes elicit crawling and other times swimming. Neuronal populations were monitored with voltage-sensitive dyes after each stimulus. By quantifying the discrimination time of each neuron, we found single neurons that discriminate before the two(More)
In the leech Hirudo medicinalis inhibitory motor neurons to longitudinal muscles make central inhibitory connections with excitatory motor neurons to the same muscles. We have used a variety of physiological and morphological methods to characterize these inhibitory connections. The efficacy of the transmission between the inhibitors and the excitors was(More)
Decision making can be a complex task involving a sequence of subdecisions. For example, we decide to pursue a goal (e.g., get something to eat), then decide how to accomplish that goal (e.g., go to a restaurant), and then make a sequence of more specific plans (e.g., which restaurant to go to, how to get there, what to order, etc.). In characterizing the(More)
We show that neurons that underlie rhythmic patterns of electrical output may be identified by optical imaging and frequency-domain analysis. Our contrast agent is a two-component dye system in which changes in membrane potential modulate the relative emission between a pair of fluorophores. We demonstrate our methods with the circuit responsible for(More)
Crawling in the medicinal leech has previously been thought to require sensory feedback because the intact behavior is strongly modulated by sensory feedback and because semi-intact preparations will only crawl if they can move freely. Here we show that an isolated leech nerve cord can produce a crawling motor pattern similar to the one seen in semi-intact(More)
Leeches swim by undulating their extended and flattened body in the dorsoventral direction, to form a wave that travels backwards along the animal. The troughs and crests of this body wave are produced by a metachronal rhythm of antiphasic contractions of the dorsal and ventral longitudinal musculature of the body wall of successive segments.(More)
1. Repeating bursts of motor neurone impulses have been recorded from the nerves of completely isolated nerve cords of the medicinal leech. The salient features of this burst rhythm are similar to those obtained in the semi-intact preparation during swimming. Hence the basic swimming rhythm is generated by a central oscillator. 2. Quantitative comparisons(More)
Electrical and chemical synapses provide two distinct modes of direct communication between neurons, and the embryonic development of the two is typically not simultaneous. Instead, in both vertebrates and invertebrates, gap junction-based electrical synapses arise before chemical synaptogenesis, and the early circuits composed of gap junction-based(More)
Changing gain in a neuronal system has important functional consequences, but the underlying mechanisms have been elusive. Models have suggested a variety of neuronal and systems properties to accomplish gain control. Here, we show that the gain of the neuronal network underlying local bending behavior in leeches depends on widespread inhibition. Using(More)
To form accurate representations of the world, sensory systems must accurately encode stimuli in the spike trains of populations of neurons. The nature of such neuronal population codes is beginning to be understood. We characterize the entire sensory system underlying a simple withdrawal reflex in the leech, a bend directed away from the site of a light(More)