Motor organization in pharynx of Helix pomatia

J Neurophysiol. 1984 Sep;52(3):389-409. doi: 10.1152/jn.1984.52.3.389.


Identified motor neurons in the buccal ganglia of Helix pomatia and pharynx muscles innervated by them were studied with intracellular recording and cobalt staining. Retrograde cobalt staining via the buccal nerves indicated that neurons occupy relatively constant positions within the ganglia. With intracellular cobalt staining it was shown that the shape of a representative motor neuron (B4) is similar in different preparations. In some cases, however, deviations from the normal pattern of axon distribution were found. Presumed motor endings of neuron B4 in the muscle were also visualized with intracellular staining. Recordings from individual motor neurons show typical phase relationships of spontaneous spike activity. Most motor neurons are active in the retraction phase of the radula. Only excitatory motor neurons were found. Most neurons directly supply more than one muscle. Amplitude of excitatory junction potentials (EJP) and plasticity at neuromuscular junctions from one neuron are similar in different muscles. Single muscle fibers receive polyneuronal innervation. Activity of single motor neurons already leads to muscle contraction even without spiking of the muscle cells. Muscle tension depends on integrated EJP size. Most motor neurons supply typical combinations of a set of muscles. Thus, several muscles can be activated synchronously by activity of a single motor neuron. In this way muscle combinations are predetermined morphologically by the peripheral branching patterns of the respective neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Cheek / innervation
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Ganglia / physiology*
  • Helix, Snails
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscles / innervation*
  • Neuromuscular Junction / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Pharyngeal Muscles / innervation*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission