Terrestrial and aquatic oligochaete worms are uniquely well suited for using non-invasive electrophysiological recordings to examine neurotoxicity effects on giant nerve fiber-mediated escape reflexes. Such recordings are made less than one minute after treatment by placing unanesthetized worms on a printed circuit board grid and obtaining multi-channel recordings of the all-or-none giant nerve fibers spikes evoked in response to light tactile stimulation to the skin. Neural parameters affected by toxicant treatments include medial and lateral giant nerve fiber conduction velocities, and efficacy of central transmission between the medial giant fiber and its associated motor neuron pool. The utility of this approach is discussed in relation to a proposed set of general criteria that may be useful in evaluating measurements of environmental neurotoxicity.
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