Different roles of neurons B63 and B34 that are active during the protraction phase of buccal motor programs in Aplysia californica

J Neurophysiol. 1997 Sep;78(3):1305-19. doi: 10.1152/jn.1997.78.3.1305.


The buccal ganglion of Aplysia contains a central pattern generator (CPG) that organizes sequences of radula protraction and retraction during food ingestion and egestion. Neurons B63 and B34 have access to, or are elements of, the CPG. Both neurons are depolarized along with B31/B32 during the protraction phase of buccal motor programs. Both cells excite the contralateral B31/B32 neurons and inhibit B64 and other neurons active during the retraction phase. B63 and B34 also both have an axon exiting the buccal ganglia via the contralateral cerebrobuccal connective. Despite their similarities, B63 and B34 differ in a number of properties, which reflects their different functions. B63 fires during both ingestion and egestion-like buccal motor programs, whereas B34 fires only during egestion-like programs. The bilateral B63 neurons, along with the bilateral B31 and B32 neurons, act as a single functional unit. Sufficient depolarization of any of these neurons activates them all and initiates a buccal motor program. B63 is electrically coupled to both the ipsilateral and the contralateral B31/B32 neurons but monosynaptically excites the contralateral neurons with a mixed electrical and chemical excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP). Positive feedback caused by electrical and chemical EPSPs between B63 and B31/B32 contributes to the sustained depolarization in B31/B32 and the firing of B63 during the protraction phase of a buccal motor program. B34 is excited during the protraction phase of all buccal motor programs, but, unlike B63, it does not always reach firing threshold. The neuron fires in response to current injection only after it is depolarized for 1-2 s or after preceding buccal motor programs in which it is depolarized. Firing of B34 produces facilitating EPSPs in the contralateral B31/B32 and B63 neurons and can initiate a buccal motor program. Firing in B34 is strongly correlated with firing in the B61/B62 motor neurons, which innervate the muscle (I2) responsible for much of protraction. B34 monosynaptically excites these motor neurons. B34 firing is also correlated with firing in motor neuron B8 during the protraction phase of a buccal motor program. B8 innervates the I4 radula closer muscle, which in egestion movements is active during protraction and in ingestion movements is active during retraction. B34 has a mixed, but predominantly excitatory, effect on B8 via a slow conductance-decrease EPSP. Thus firing in B34 leads to amplification of radula protraction that is coupled with radula closing, a pattern characteristic of egestion.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aplysia / physiology*
  • Cheek / innervation
  • Cheek / physiology
  • Culture Media
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrophysiology
  • Feedback / physiology
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / cytology
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / drug effects
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / ultrastructure
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Magnesium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Neural Pathways / drug effects


  • Culture Media
  • Magnesium Chloride