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Investigations On the Neural Control of Clasping and Feeding in Xenopus Laevis (Daudin)

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The neural mechanisms controlling clasping and feeding in Xenopus have been studied by subjecting sexually active males (injected with chorionic gonadotropin) to transections and ablations in the regions of cranial nerve V and the cerebellum. Experimental males were tested for clasping on a series of females of differing girths. Various tactile stimuli were used to analyse the feeding behaviour. In addition to the clasp patterns described previously (HUTCHISON & POYNTON, 1963), males transected in the region of cranial nerve V display initiatory clasping movements which serve to manoeuvre the male into the clasp position. These movements are not carried out unless the girth of the clasp object exceeds a certain minimum. It is suggested that a "selective mechanism", associated witli the clasp control system in the medulla and spine, controls the initiatory movements. A distinct feeding pattern is displayed by an intact male as it manipulates and bites at food. A similar feeding pattern can be elicited from males transected in the region of cranial nerve V by means of tactile stimulation of the skin of the mouth and throat regions. Slight variation in the position of the transection has a marked ef fect on the display of feeding behaviour. Well co-ordinated feeding can be elicited from males transected immediately anterior to cranial nerve V. However, the feeding pattern of males transected at the level of cranial nerve V is incomplete and difficult to elicit. It is concluded that manipulatory and biting movements are co-ordinated by a feeding control system in the anterior medulla of Xenopus. Destruction of cranial nerve V or cranial nerves V and VII has little effect on the clasping and feeding of males transected immediately anterior to cranial nerve V. If cranial nerves V, VII, IX and X are destroyed feeding behaviour is eliminated and clasping, once initiated, is maintained "rigidly" irrespective of wether a clasp object is present or not. A study of the effects of transections in the region of the cerebellum shows that if the transection leaves the cerebellar region intact, neither clasping nor feeding can be elicited. To account for this effect, it is postulated that a locomotory control system associated with the cerebellar region inhibits clasping and feeding in <Xenopus.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa


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