A Computational Model of a Descending Mechanosensory Pathway Involved in Active Tactile Sensing

Ache JM, Dürr V (2015)
PLoS Computational Biology 11(7): e1004263.

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Journal Article | Published | English
Abstract
Many animals, including humans, rely on active tactile sensing to explore the environment and negotiate obstacles, especially in the dark. Here, we model a descending neural pathway that mediates short-latency proprioceptive information from a tactile sensor on the head to thoracic neural networks. We studied the nocturnal stick insect Carausius morosus, a model organism for the study of adaptive locomotion, including tactually mediated reaching movements. Like mammals, insects need to move their tactile sensors for probing the environment. Cues about sensor position and motion are therefore crucial for the spatial localization of tactile contacts and the coordination of fast, adaptive motor responses. Our model explains how proprioceptive information about motion and position of the antennae, the main tactile sensors in insects, can be encoded by a single type of mechanosensory afferents. Moreover, it explains how this information is integrated and mediated to thoracic neural networks by a diverse population of descending interneurons (DINs). First, we quantified responses of a DIN population to changes in antennal position, motion and direction. Using principal component (PC) analysis, we find that only two PCs account for a large fraction of the variance in the DIN response properties. We call the two-dimensional space spanned by these PCs 'coding-space' because it captures essential features of the entire DIN population. Second, we model the mechanoreceptive input elements of this descending pathway, a population of proprioceptive mechanosensory hairs monitoring deflection of the antennal joints. Finally, we propose a computational framework that can model the response properties of all important DIN types, using the hair field model as its only input. This DIN model is validated by comparison of tuning characteristics, and by mapping the modelled neurons into the two-dimensional coding-space of the real DIN population. This reveals the versatility of the framework for modelling a complete descending neural pathway.
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Article Processing Charge funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Open Access Publication Fund of Bielefeld University.
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Ache JM, Dürr V. A Computational Model of a Descending Mechanosensory Pathway Involved in Active Tactile Sensing. PLoS Computational Biology. 2015;11(7): e1004263.
Ache, J. M., & Dürr, V. (2015). A Computational Model of a Descending Mechanosensory Pathway Involved in Active Tactile Sensing. PLoS Computational Biology, 11(7): e1004263.
Ache, J. M., and Dürr, V. (2015). A Computational Model of a Descending Mechanosensory Pathway Involved in Active Tactile Sensing. PLoS Computational Biology 11:e1004263.
Ache, J.M., & Dürr, V., 2015. A Computational Model of a Descending Mechanosensory Pathway Involved in Active Tactile Sensing. PLoS Computational Biology, 11(7): e1004263.
J.M. Ache and V. Dürr, “A Computational Model of a Descending Mechanosensory Pathway Involved in Active Tactile Sensing”, PLoS Computational Biology, vol. 11, 2015, : e1004263.
Ache, J.M., Dürr, V.: A Computational Model of a Descending Mechanosensory Pathway Involved in Active Tactile Sensing. PLoS Computational Biology. 11, : e1004263 (2015).
Ache, Jan Marek, and Dürr, Volker. “A Computational Model of a Descending Mechanosensory Pathway Involved in Active Tactile Sensing”. PLoS Computational Biology 11.7 (2015): e1004263.
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35 References

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