Identification and characterization of catecholaminergic neuron B65, which initiates and modifies patterned activity in the buccal ganglia of Aplysia

J Neurophysiol. 1998 Feb;79(2):605-21. doi: 10.1152/jn.1998.79.2.605.


Catecholamines are believed to play an important role in regulating the properties and functional organization of the neural circuitry mediating consummatory feeding behaviors in Aplysia. In the present study, we morphologically and electrophysiologically identified a pair of catecholaminergic interneurons, referred to as B65, in the buccal ganglia. Their processes innervate both the ipsi- and contralateral neuropil, and separate branches of B65 appeared to innervate the somata of both ipsi- and contralateral B4/5 neurons. B65 exhibited patterned burst(s) of activity during spontaneous cycles of fictive feeding. Patterned activity in B65 also was elicited by stimulation of the radula nerve, by depolarization of the pattern initiating neurons B31/32 or B63, and by bath application of -3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA). B65 appeared to be a member of the protraction group of neurons. Action potentials in B65 elicited fast one-for-one excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) in neurons B4/5, B8A/B, B31/32, B63, and B64. In turn, B31/32 and B63 excited B65 and B64 inhibited B65. Some of the synaptic connections of B65 were plastic. For example, the fast EPSPs elicited in B4/5 and B64 decremented, whereas those in B31/32 andB8A/B facilitated. In addition to fast EPSPs, B65 elicited slow postsynaptic potentials in some of its follower cells. Depolarization of B65 elicited cycles of patterned activity indicative of fictive feeding in buccal neurons, including B65 itself. During series of B65-induced patterns, the properties of the buccal motor programs appeared to change. In particular, the activity of radula closure motor neurons B8A/B, which initially coincided mainly with the protraction phase of a cycle, gradually extended to overlap mostly with the retraction phase. This observation suggests that prolonged activity in B65 may play a role in transitioning from rejection-like to ingestion-like fictive feeding. The phase shift of the activity of B8A/B appears due, at least in part, to a decrease in activity of B4/5, and thus a reduction in inhibition from B4/5 onto B8A/B, during the retraction phase. The functional properties and synaptic connections of B65 suggest that it may play an important role in determining features of patterned neural activity in the buccal ganglia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Aplysia / cytology
  • Aplysia / physiology*
  • Dopamine / pharmacology
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Dopamine Agents / pharmacology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / cytology*
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / physiology
  • Levodopa / pharmacology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*


  • Dopamine Agents
  • Levodopa
  • Dopamine