In vitro appetitive classical conditioning of the feeding response in the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis

J Neurophysiol. 1997 Nov;78(5):2351-62. doi: 10.1152/jn.1997.78.5.2351.


In vitro appetitive classical conditioning of the feeding response in the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis. J. Neurophysiol. 78: 2351-2362, 1997. An in vitro preparation was developed that allowed electrophysiological analysis of appetitive conditioning of feeding in the model molluscan system, Lymnaea. The network generating the feeding motor program (fictive feeding) is well characterized at the cellular level and consists of identified central pattern generator (CPG) interneurons, motor neurons, and modulatory interneurons. Activation of a modulatory interneuron, the slow oscillator (SO), evokes the three-phase fictive feeding rhythm in the same semi-intact preparations where tactile stimuli can be applied to the lips. By pairing touch as a conditioned stimulus (CS) with stimulation of the SO as an unconditioned stimulus (US), we established an effective in vitro paradigm for appetitive conditioning. Before training, touch to the lips evoked only brief and weak activity in the feeding interneurons and motor neurons. After 6-10 conditioning trials, there was a significant enhancement in the fictive feeding response to CS alone. This was not seen in controls (CS only, US only, random CS and US) and in preparations where there was no initial brief response to touch before conditioning. Direct recordings from the protraction phase N1M interneurons during in vitro conditioning indicated that the enhancement of the fictive feeding is due to an increased activation of these CPG cells by mechanosensory inputs from the lips. We also found that the conditioned response was not due to a facilitated activation of modulatory neurons in the feeding network, such as the SO or the cerebral giant cells (CGCs), because the activity of these cells remained unchanged after conditioning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetite / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Lymnaea / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation