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Neurological changes can happen due to social status, crayfish study shows

Date:
April 19, 2012
Source:
Georgia State University
Summary:
Researchers have discovered that in one species of freshwater crustaceans, social status can affect the configuration of neural circuitry. They found that dominant and subordinate crayfish differ in their behavioral responses when touched unexpectedly, and that those differences correlate with differences in neural circuits that mediate those responses.
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Crayfish. Researchers have discovered that in one species of freshwater crustaceans, social status can affect the configuration of neural circuitry.
Credit: © Luis Carlos Jiménez / Fotolia

Researchers at Georgia State University have discovered that in one species of freshwater crustaceans, social status can affect the configuration of neural circuitry.

They found that dominant and subordinate crayfish differ in their behavioral responses when touched unexpectedly, and that those differences correlate with differences in neural circuits that mediate those responses.

The article was published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience. The research team included Don Edwards, Fadi A. Issa and Joanne Drummond of Georgia State, and Daniel Cattaert of the Centre de Neurosciences Integratives et Cognitives of the Universities of Bordeaux 1 and 2.

When dominant crayfish are touched unexpectedly, they tend to raise their claws, while subordinate animals drop in place and scoot backwards, said Donald Edwards, Regents' Professor of neuroscience at Georgia State.

In looking at the nervous systems of the animals, the researchers noticed differences in how neurons were excited to produce different reactions to being touched when the animals' behavioral status changed. The changes do not represent a wholesale rewiring of the circuits, Edwards said.

"There is reconfiguration going on, but it is probably a shift in the excitation of the different neurons," he explained.

Neuroscientists at Georgia State are working on building computational models of the animals' nervous systems to learn more about how the neurons work in crayfish.

"If you can't build it, you don't know truly how it works," Edwards said.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Georgia State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Fadi A. Issa, Joanne Drummond, Daniel Cattaert, And Donald H. Edwards. Neural Circuit Reconfiguration by Social Status. Journal of Neuroscience, 2012 DOI: 10.1523//JNEUROSCI.5668-11.2012

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Georgia State University. "Neurological changes can happen due to social status, crayfish study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419153921.htm>.
Georgia State University. (2012, April 19). Neurological changes can happen due to social status, crayfish study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419153921.htm
Georgia State University. "Neurological changes can happen due to social status, crayfish study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419153921.htm (accessed July 2, 2015).

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