A computational model of internal representations of chemical gradients in environments for chemotaxis of Caenorhabditis elegans
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The small roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans employs two strategies, termed pirouette and weathervane, which are closely related to the internal representation of chemical gradients parallel and perpendicular to the travelling direction, respectively, to perform chemotaxis. These gradients must be calculated from the chemical information obtained at a single point, because the sensory neurons are located close to each other at the nose tip. To formulate the relationship between this sensory input and internal representations of the chemical gradient, this study proposes a simple computational model derived from the directional decomposition of the chemical concentration at the nose tip that can generate internal representations of the chemical gradient. The ability of the computational model was verified by using a chemotaxis simulator that can simulate the body motions of pirouette and weathervane, which confirmed that the computational model enables the conversion of the sensory input and head-bending angles into both types of gradients with high correlations of approximately r > 0.90 (p < 0.01) with the true gradients. In addition, the chemotaxis index of the model was 0.64, which is slightly higher than that in the actual animal (0.57). In addition, simulation using a connectome-based neural network model confirmed that the proposed computational model is implementable in the actual network structure.
This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 15H03950 to T.T and MEXT KAKENHI Grant Numbers 20115010 to T.T. and 20115002 to Y.I.
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