Neuronal firing patterns can contain different temporal information. It has long been known that the fast pyloric and the slower gastric motor patterns in the stomatogastric ganglion of decapod crustaceans interact. However, the bidirectional influences between the pyloric rhythm and the gastric mill rhythm have not been quantified in detail from preparations that spontaneously express both patterns in vitro. We found regular and stable spontaneous gastric and pyloric activity in 71% of preparations of the isolated stomatogastric nervous system of the lobster, Homarus americanus. The gastric [cycle period: 10.96 ± 2.67 (SD) s] and pyloric (cycle period: 1.35 ± 0.18 s) patterns showed bidirectional interactions and coordination. Gastric neuron firing showed preferred phases within the reference frame of the pyloric cycle. The relative timing and burst parameters of the pyloric neurons systematically changed within the reference frame of the gastric cycle. The gastric rhythm showed a tendency to run at cycle periods that were integer multiples of the pyloric periods, but coupling and coordination between the two rhythms were variable. We used power spectra to quantify the gastric and pyloric contributions to the firing pattern of each individual neuron. This provided us with a way to analyze the firing pattern of each gastric and pyloric neuron type individually without reference to either gastric or pyloric phase. Possible functional consequences of these network interactions for motor output are discussed.
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