Interneurons in leech ganglia receive multiple sensory inputs and make synaptic contacts with many motor neurons. These “hidden” units coordinate several different behaviors. We used physiological and anatomical constraints to construct a model of the local bending reflex. Dynamic networks were trained on experimentally derived input-output patterns using recurrent backpropagation. Units in the model were modified to include electrical synapses and multiple synaptic time constants. The properties of the hidden units that emerged in the simulations matched those in the leech. The model and data support distributed rather than localist representations in the local bending reflex. These results also explain counterintuitive aspects of the local bending circuitry.

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