Modulatory role for the serotonergic cerebral giant cells in the feeding system of the snail, Lymnaea. I. Fine wire recording in the intact animal and pharmacology

J Neurophysiol. 1994 Sep;72(3):1357-71. doi: 10.1152/jn.1994.72.3.1357.


1. The role of the paired serotonergic cerebral giant cells (CGCs) in the feeding system of Lymnaea was examined by electrophysiological and pharmacological techniques. 2. The firing characteristics of the CGCs were recorded by fine wires attached to their cell bodies in freely moving intact snails (in vivo recording) and their "physiological" rates of firing determined during feeding and other behaviors. 3. The mean CGC firing rates recorded in vivo varied between 1 and 20 spikes/min but never reached the average rates seen in the isolated CNS (60-120 spikes/min). Maximum rates of firing were seen during bouts of radula biting/rasping movements characteristic of the consummatory phase of feeding (15 +/- 1.69 spikes/min, mean +/- SE, range 7-20 spikes/min), with lower rates seen during locomotion (6.7 +/- 0.75 spikes/min; range 5-9 spikes/min. The cells were rarely active when the animal was quiescent (1.45 +/- 0.91 spikes/min; range 0-2 spikes/min). 4. In vivo recorded CGC firing was phase locked to the feeding movements of the animal, with spikes occurring just before the opening of the mouth, during the protraction phase of the feeding cycle. 5. Evoking firing rates on the CGCs in the isolated preparation similar to those seen in vivo during rasping movements (7-20 spikes/min) did not elicit a fictive feeding pattern in an inactive preparation. Neither did bath application of 10(-9) M serotonin (5-HT; the transmitter of the CGCs). 6. To allow the modulatory role of the CGCs to be examined during patterned activity, the fictive feeding pattern was evoked in the isolated preparation by injecting depolarizing current into a modulatory neuron, the slow oscillator (SO). 7. The tonic firing activity of the CGCs was accurately maintained by current injection in the isolated preparation at rates equivalent to that occurring during feeding, locomotion, and quiescence in the intact snail. This was possible where the CGCs became silent after 1-2 h. Only when the CGCs activity was maintained at a rate (approximately 15 spikes/min) similar to that occurring during rasping, was the SO able to drive a full, high-frequency fictive feeding pattern (15-20 cycles/min). At lower rates of CGC firing, the SO-driven rhythm was either of lower frequency or no rhythm occurred at all (CGCs silent). 8. In many isolated preparations (80%) the CGCs remained active, and it was difficult to maintain specific levels of tonic activity by current injection.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arousal / drug effects
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Culture Techniques
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Evoked Potentials / drug effects
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / drug effects
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / physiology*
  • Lymnaea / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / drug effects
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Serotonin / physiology*
  • Serotonin Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists / pharmacology
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Serotonin Antagonists
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists
  • Serotonin