Morphological basis of long-term habituation and sensitization in Aplysia

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Science  01 Apr 1983:
Vol. 220, Issue 4592, pp. 91-93
DOI: 10.1126/science.6828885


The morphological basis of the persistent synaptic plasticity that underlies long-term habituation and sensitization of the gill withdrawal reflex in Aplysia californica was explored by examining the fine structure of sensory neuron presynaptic terminals (the critical site of plasticity for the short-term forms of both types of learning) in control animals and in animals whose behavior had been modified by training. The number, size, and vesicle complement of sensory neuron active zones were larger in animals showing long-term sensitization than in control animals and smaller in animals showing long-term habituation. These changes are likely to represent an anatomical substrate for the memory consolidation of these tasks.