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Precise neuronal firing is especially important for behaviors highly dependent on the correct sequencing and timing of muscle activity patterns, such as acoustic signaling. Acoustic signaling is an important communication modality for vertebrates, including many teleost fishes. Toadfishes are well known to exhibit high temporal fidelity in synchronous motoneuron firing within a hindbrain network directly determining the temporal structure of natural calls. Here, we investigated how these motoneurons maintain synchronous activation. We show that pronounced temporal precision in population-level motoneuronal firing depends on gap junction-mediated, glycinergic inhibition that generates a period of reduced probability of motoneuron activation. Super-resolution microscopy confirms glycinergic release sites formed by a subset of adjacent premotoneurons contacting motoneuron somata and dendrites. In aggregate, the evidence supports the hypothesis that gap junction-mediated, glycinergic inhibition provides a timing mechanism for achieving synchrony and temporal precision in the millisecond range for rapid modulation of acoustic waveforms.


This work was originally published in eLife, available at DOI:

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