Circuit Optimization Predicts Dynamic Networks for Chemosensory Orientation in Nematode C. elegans

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 16 (NIPS 2003)

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Nathan A. Dunn, John S. Conery, Shawn Lockery


The connectivity of the nervous system of the nematode Caenorhabdi- tis elegans has been described completely, but the analysis of the neu- ronal basis of behavior in this system is just beginning. Here, we used an optimization algorithm to search for patterns of connectivity suffi- cient to compute the sensorimotor transformation underlying C. elegans chemotaxis, a simple form of spatial orientation behavior in which turn- ing probability is modulated by the rate of change of chemical concen- tration. Optimization produced differentiator networks with inhibitory feedback among all neurons. Further analysis showed that feedback reg- ulates the latency between sensory input and behavior. Common patterns of connectivity between the model and biological networks suggest new functions for previously identified connections in the C. elegans nervous system.