Central and Peripheral Control of Gill Movements in Aplysia

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Science  17 Dec 1971:
Vol. 174, Issue 4015, pp. 1252-1256
DOI: 10.1126/science.174.4015.1252


Two types of gill contraction in Aplysia were used to study the relation of peripheral and central pathways in controlling behavioral responses in a mollusk. A weak or moderate tactile stimulus to the mantle elicits gill contraction (gill-withdrawal reflex) as a component of a more extensive withdrawal response; a stimulus applied directly to the gill elicits a localized response of the gill pinnule (pinnule response). Central pathways through the abdominal ganglion are both necessary and sufficient for the gill-withdrawal reflex, and motor neuron L7 makes direct connections with gill muscles, without engaging the peripheral plexus. Peripheral pathways are necessary and sufficient for the pinnule response. As a result of the independence of peripheral and central pathways, habituation by repeated tactile stimulation of one pathway does not affect the responsiveness of the other pathway.