Cyclic structure with cellular precision in a vertebrate sensorimotor neural circuit

the EyeWirers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Neuronal wiring diagrams reconstructed by electron microscopy1,2,3,4,5 pose new questions about the organization of nervous systems following the time-honored tradition of cross-species comparisons.6,7 The C. elegans connectome has been conceptualized as a sensorimotor circuit that is approximately feedforward,8,9,10,11 starting from sensory neurons proceeding to interneurons and ending with motor neurons. Overrepresentation of a 3-cell motif often known as the “feedforward loop” has provided further evidence for feedforwardness.10,12 Here, we contrast with another sensorimotor wiring diagram that was recently reconstructed from a larval zebrafish brainstem.13 We show that the 3-cycle, another 3-cell motif, is highly overrepresented in the oculomotor module of this wiring diagram. This is a first for any neuronal wiring diagram reconstructed by electron microscopy, whether invertebrate12,14 or mammalian.15,16,17 The 3-cycle of cells is “aligned” with a 3-cycle of neuronal groups in a stochastic block model (SBM)18 of the oculomotor module. However, the cellular cycles exhibit more specificity than can be explained by the group cycles—recurrence to the same neuron is surprisingly common. Cyclic structure could be relevant for theories of oculomotor function that depend on recurrent connectivity. The cyclic structure coexists with the classic vestibulo-ocular reflex arc for horizontal eye movements,19 and could be relevant for recurrent network models of temporal integration by the oculomotor system.20,21

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2340-2349.e3
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 5 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


  • EM connectome
  • connectivity motifs
  • oculomotor system


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