In spiders the bulk of the central nervous system (CNS) consists of fused segmental ganglia traversed by longitudinal tracts, which have precise relationships with sensory neuropils and which contain the fibers of large plurisegmental interneurons. The responses of these interneurons to various mechanical stimuli were studied electrophysiologically, and their unilateral or bilateral structure was revealed by intracellular staining. Unilateral interneurons visit all the neuromeres on one side of the CNS. They receive mechanosensory input either from a single leg or from all ipsilateral legs via sensory neurons that invade leg neuromeres and project into specific longitudinal tracts. The anatomical organization of unilateral interneurons suggests that their axons impart their information to all ipsilateral leg neuromeres. Bilateral interneurons are of two kinds, symmetric and asymmetric neurons. The latter respond to stimulation of all legs on one side of the body, having their dendrites amongst sensory tracts of the same side of the CNS. Anatomical evidence suggests that their terminals invade all four contralateral leg neuromeres. Bilaterally symmetrical plurisegmental interneurons have dendritic arborizations in both halves of the fused ventral ganglia. They respond to the stimulation of any of the 8 legs. A third class of cells, the ascending neurons have unilateral or bilateral dendritic arborizations in the fused ventral ganglia and show blebbed axons in postero-ventral regions of the brain. Their response characteristics are similar to those of other plurisegmental interneurons. Descending neurons have opposite structural polarity, arising in the brain and terminating in segmental regions of the fused ventral ganglia. Descending neurons show strong responses to visual stimulation. Approximately 50% of all the recorded neurons respond exclusively to stimulation of a single type of mechanoreceptor (either tactile hairs, or trichobothria, or slit sensilla), while the rest respond to stimulation of a variety of sensilla. However, these functional differences are not obviously reflected by the anatomy. The functional significance of plurisegmental interneurons is discussed with respect to sensory convergence and the coordination of motor output to the legs. A comparison between the response properties of certain plurisegmental interneurons and their parent longitudinal tracts suggests that the tracts themselves do not reflect a modality-specific organization.
- Cupiennius salei (Chelicerata)
- Intracellular recording
- Plurisegmental interneurons
- Spider central nervous system
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Cell Biology