Oscillatory networks underlie rhythmic behaviors (e.g. walking, chewing), and complex behaviors (e.g. memory formation, decision making). Flexibility of oscillatory networks includes neurons switching between single- and dual-network participation, even generating oscillations at two distinct frequencies. Modulation of synaptic strength can underlie this neuronal switching. Here we ask whether switching into dual-frequency oscillations can also result from modulation of intrinsic neuronal properties. The isolated stomatogastric nervous system of male Cancer borealis crabs contains two well-characterized rhythmic feeding-related networks (pyloric, ~1 Hz; gastric mill, ~0.1 Hz). The identified modulatory projection neuron MCN5 causes the pyloric-only LPG neuron to switch to dual pyloric/gastric mill bursting. Bath applying the MCN5 neuropeptide transmitter Gly1-SIFamide only partly mimics the LPG switch to dual activity, due to continued LP neuron inhibition of LPG. Here, we find that MCN5 uses a co-transmitter, glutamate, to inhibit LP, unlike Gly1-SIFamide excitation of LP. Thus, we modeled the MCN5-elicited LPG switching with Gly1-SIFamide application and LP photoinactivation. Using hyperpolarization of pyloric pacemaker neurons and gastric mill network neurons, we found that LPG pyloric-timed oscillations require rhythmic electrical synaptic input. However, LPG gastric mill-timed oscillations do not require any pyloric/gastric mill synaptic input and are voltage dependent. Thus, we identify modulation of intrinsic properties as an additional mechanism for switching a neuron into dual-frequency activity. Instead of synaptic modulation switching a neuron into a second network as a passive follower, modulation of intrinsic properties could enable a switching neuron to become an active contributor to rhythm generation in the second network.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience