Comprehensive analysis of locomotion dynamics in the protochordate Ciona intestinalis reveals how neuromodulators flexibly shape its behavioral repertoire
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPLoS Biology. 2022, 20 (8), e3001744. 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001744
Vertebrate nervous systems can generate a remarkable diversity of behaviors. However, our understanding of how behaviors may have evolved in the chordate lineage is limited by the lack of neuroethological studies leveraging our closest invertebrate relatives. Here, we combine high-throughput video acquisition with pharmacological perturbations of bioamine signaling to systematically reveal the global structure of the motor behavioral repertoire in the Ciona intestinalis larvae. Most of Ciona’s postural variance can be captured by 6 basic shapes, which we term “eigencionas.” Motif analysis of postural time series revealed numerous stereotyped behavioral maneuvers including “startle-like” and “beat-and-glide.” Employing computational modeling of swimming dynamics and spatiotemporal embedding of postural features revealed that behavioral differences are generated at the levels of motor modules and the transitions between, which may in part be modulated by bioamines. Finally, we show that flexible motor module usage gives rise to diverse behaviors in response to different light stimuli.