Electrotonic coupling: effective sign reversal by inhibitory neurons

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Science  03 Dec 1976:
Vol. 194, Issue 4269, pp. 1065-1067
DOI: 10.1126/science.185698


Neurons in the buccal ganglia of Navanax inermis which control circumferential muscles of the pharynx showed typical electrotonic coupling when there was little synaptic activity in them. When there was much inhibitory activity, the effective sign of coupling was reversed; that is, hyperpolarization and depolarization of one cell caused depolarization and hyperpolarization of the others. A neural circuit explaining these results involes inhibitory neurons electronically coupled to and also inhibitory to the circumferential neurons that are themselves coupled. This circuit offers considerable flexibility for mediation of different activity patterns in this simple neuronal system.