Glutamatergic N2v cells are central pattern generator interneurons of the lymnaea feeding system: new model for rhythm generation

J Neurophysiol. 1997 Dec;78(6):3396-407. doi: 10.1152/jn.1997.78.6.3396.


We aimed to show that the paired N2v (N2 ventral) plateauing cells of the buccal ganglia are important central pattern generator (CPG) interneurons of the Lymnaea feeding system. N2v plateauing is phase-locked to the rest of the CPG network in a slow oscillator (SO)-driven fictive feeding rhythm. The phase of the rhythm is reset by artificially evoked N2v bursts, a characteristic of CPG neurons. N2v cells have extensive input and output synaptic connections with the rest of the CPG network and the modulatory SO cell and cerebral giant cells (CGCs). Synaptic input from the protraction phase interneurons N1M (excitatory), N1L (inhibitory), and SO (inhibitory-excitatory) are likely to contribute to a ramp-shaped prepotential that triggers the N2v plateau. The prepotential has a highly complex waveform due to progressive changes in the amplitude of the component synaptic potentials. Most significant is the facilitation of the excitatory component of the SO --> N2v monosynaptic connection. None of the other CPG interneurons has the appropriate input synaptic connections to terminate the N2v plateaus. The modulatory function of acetylcholine (ACh), the transmitter of the SO and N1M/N1Ls, was examined. Focal application of ACh (50-ms pulses) onto the N2v cells reproduced the SO --> N2v biphasic synaptic response but also induced long-term plateauing (20-60 s). N2d cells show no endogenous ability to plateau, but this can be induced by focal applications of ACh. The N2v cells inhibit the N3 tonic (N3t) but not the N3 phasic (N3p) CPG interneurons. The N2v --> N3t inhibitory synaptic connection is important in timing N3t activity. The N3t cells recover from this inhibition and fire during the swallow phase of the feeding pattern. Feedback N2v inhibition to the SO, N1L protraction phase interneurons prevents them firing during the retraction phase of the feeding cycle. The N2v --> N1M synaptic connection was weak and only found in 50% of preparations. A weak N2v --> CGC inhibitory connection prevents the CGCs firing during the rasp (N2) phase of the feeding cycle. These data allowed a new model for the Lymnaea feeding CPG to be proposed. This emphasizes that each of the six types of CPG interneuron has a unique set of synaptic connections, all of which contribute to the generation of a full CPG pattern.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Evoked Potentials / drug effects
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / physiology
  • Glutamic Acid / physiology
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Lymnaea / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Periodicity*
  • Synapses / drug effects
  • Synapses / physiology


  • Glutamic Acid
  • Acetylcholine