Motor neuronal control of tail-directed and head-directed siphon responses in Aplysia californica

J Neurophysiol. 1995 Jul;74(1):307-21. doi: 10.1152/jn.1995.74.1.307.


1. Cutaneous stimulation of opposite ends of the body causes qualitatively different siphon responses: tail stimulation causes flaring and backward bending (the siphon T response), whereas head stimulation causes constriction and slight anterior bending (the siphon H response). This paper characterizes the motor neuronal control of siphon T and siphon H responses. 2. The siphon response to tail nerve (p9) shock in a semi-intact preparation was indistinguishable from the siphon T response in intact or parapodectomized animals. Similarly, the siphon response to head nerve (c2) shock in this preparation was indistinguishable from the siphon H response in intact or parapodectomized animals. 3. Central siphon motor neurons (SMNs) were found to cause a wider variety of movements than previously reported. The movements produced by the LFSB cells strongly resemble the flaring response of the siphon to tail or tail nerve stimulation. The movements produced by RDS and LDS1 resemble components of the constricting response of the siphon to head or head nerve stimulation. 4. Among central SMNs, the LFSB cells show the strongest activation by posterior stimulation, whereas RDS and LDS1 show the strongest activation by anterior stimulation. The LFSA cells, which produce much weaker siphon constriction, are only activated slightly by posterior stimulation and are inhibited by anterior stimulation. Peripheral SMNs are inhibited by stimulation of head and tail nerves, and thus their activity does not directly contribute to siphon T and H responses. 5. Artificially activating central SMNs with the pattern of activity previously exhibited after tail or head nerve stimulation indicated the sufficiency of the LFSB cells for the siphon T response, and of RDS and LDS1 for the siphon H response. 6. Dramatic behavioral deficits produced by hyperpolarizing the LFSB cells during tail nerve stimulation, or by hyperpolarizing RDS and LDS1 during head nerve stimulation, indicated the necessity of these cells for the expression of directed siphon responses to tail or head stimulation, respectively. 7. Because of their apparent necessity and sufficiency for directional siphon responses to anterior and posterior stimulation, these few cells provide well-defined vantage points for studying neural mechanisms underlying the motor control and transformation of siphon responses. The four LFSB cells offer a special advantage for cellular analysis because they form a homogeneous functional unit in which any sampled LFSB cell can be used as a precise monitor of the total motor output underlying the siphon T response.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aplysia / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Extremities / innervation
  • Extremities / physiology
  • Head / physiology
  • Learning / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Reflex / physiology
  • Tail / physiology
  • Terminology as Topic