STT = St. Thomas Campus,
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
STX = Albert A. Sheen Campus,
St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
STJ = St. John Academic Center,
St. John, US Virgin Islands
Area: Neurobiology, adaptive control of motor function
Abstract of Research: The Caribbean spiny lobster is capable of exploiting marine habitates ranging in temperature from 15 to 32¡ C. The intrinsic ability of animals to exploit ecological niches depends, in part, on the capacity of neural circuits to adaptively reconfigure patterns of output under environmentally relevant conditions. Controlled, repetitive movements such as walking, respiration, and chewing require underlying, rhythmic patterns of neural activity produced by neural circuits known as central pattern generators (CPG). Most CPG's reside within the central nervous system and are relatively difficult to access. The stomatogastric nervous system (STNS) of spiny lobsters is a perpherial system with multiple CPGs that can be isolated for study. The most distal central pattern generator within the isolated STNS is the pyloric CPG which resides within a single stomatogastric ganglion (STG). The pyloric CPG is the final control element for five groups of somatic muscle associated with food sorting and is comprised of approximately 14 neurons with well defined synaptic connections. Analysis of temperature effects on the pyloric CPG reveal multiple energetically distinct configurations controlling pyloric bursting. Our research focuses on molecular and cellular changes within the pyloric CPG and the ability of inputs from higher centers within the STNS to produce or control these energetically distinct configurations of the CPG as a function of temperature acclimation.