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Mechanosensory stimulation evokes acute concussion-like behavior by activating GIRKs coupled to muscarinic receptors in a simple vertebrate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wen-Chang Li, Xiao-Yue Zhu, Emma Ritson

School/Research organisations


Most vertebrates show concussion responses when their heads are hit suddenly by heavy objects. Previous studies have focused on the direct physical injuries to the neural tissue caused by the concussive blow. We study a similar behaviour in a simple vertebrate, the Xenopus Laevis tadpole. We find that concussion-like behaviour can be reliably induced by the mechanosensory stimulation of the head skin without direct physical impacts on the brain. Head skin stimulation activates a cholinergic pathway which then opens G-protein coupled inward-rectifying potassium channels (GIRKs) via postsynaptic M2 muscarinic receptors to inhibit brainstem neurons critical for the initiation and maintenance of swimming for up to minutes and can explain many features commonly observed immediately after concussion. We propose that some acute symptoms of concussion in vertebrates can be explained by the opening of GIRKs following mechanosensory stimulation to the head.


Original languageEnglish
Article number0073-17.2017
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2017

    Research areas

  • Brainstem, Concussion, GIRK, Mechanosensory, Muscarinic, Swimming

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