Neural correlate of behavioral plasticity in command neurons of Pleurobranchaea

Science  17 Feb 1978:
Vol. 199, Issue 4330, pp. 801-804
DOI: 10.1126/science.622572


Food stimuli normally excite the command neurons of Pleurobranchaea that cause feeding. In contrast, the same food stimuli selectively inhibit these neurons in specimens that have been trained to suppress feeding and withdraw from food by means of an avoidance conditioning paradigm consisting of paired food and conditional shock. Food stimuli excite the feeding command neurons of yoked control specimens exposed to unpaired food and shock, but inhibit the feeding command neurons of untrained specimens that have been satiated with food. These results suggest that the command neurons serve as a neural locus at which an animal's behavior is modulated by past experiences. These results also establish a neural correlate of behavioral plasticity, in the form of synaptic inhibition of the command neurons.

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