Neuronal analysis of pharyngeal peristalsis in the gastropod Navanax in terms of identified motoneurons innervating identified muscle bands. II. Radial and circumferential motor fields

Mitchell S. Cappell, David C. Spray, Abraham J. Susswein, Michael V.L. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


The neuronal basis of pharyngeal ingestion and peristalsis was studied in the gastropod Navanax inermis. Radially and circumferentially oriented muscles produced expansion and constriction of the pharynx. Motor fields of 11 identified radial motoneurons and 13 identified circumferential motoneurons were determined with respect to circumferential and longitudinal muscle band coordinates by muscle movements, electromyography, antidromic stimulation and axonal anatomy. Activation of these identified motoneurons can account for all the elemental pharyngeal movements observed during feeding. Four motoneurons, each innervating most of radial muscle, can mediate ingestion. Three radial motoneurons with anterior motor fields can mediate anterior expansion during sealing of the pharyngeal lips around prey and during regurgitation. Ten circumferential motoneurons have small arciform motor fields, the distributions of which correspond to the regional specializations in circumferential band organization. Arciform constriction can center eccentric ingested prey within the pharyngeal lumen during peristalsis. Arciform constrictions could combine to form an annular constriction in peristalsis. Small, non-overlapping, circumferential motor fields maximize the number of independent annular units available to produce a fine peristaltic wave. Sphincters have more circumferential motoneurons with smaller motor fields; this innervation permits finer motor control. Radial motoneurons with posterior motor fields can produce expansion caudal to a circumferential constriction during peristalsis. Motor fields of regional radial motoneurons show greater interanimal variability than circumferential motor fields, which is correlated with a less essential role of radial motoneurons in peristalsis. Two circumferential motoneurons with giant posterior pharyngeal motor fields can mediate pharyngeal emptying either in swallowing or in regurgitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-279
Number of pages14
JournalBrain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 20 1989



  • Buccal ganglion
  • Enteric nervous system
  • Gastropod
  • Mollusc
  • Motoneuron
  • Navanax inermis
  • Peristalsis
  • Pharynx

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology

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