Membrane changes in a single photoreceptor cause associative learning in Hermissenda

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Science  16 Sep 1983:
Vol. 221, Issue 4616, pp. 1201-1203
DOI: 10.1126/science.6612335


Single type B photoreceptors in intact, restrained Hermissenda were impaled with a microelectrode and exposed to either paired or unpaired presentations of light and depolarizing current to simulate natural stimulus effects during conditioning with light and rotation. Paired, but not unpaired, stimulus presentations produced cumulative depolarization and increased input resistance in type B cells. These membrane changes are similar to those observed after pairings of light and rotation are administered to either intact animals or isolated nervous systems or when light is paired with electrical stimulation of the vestibular system in isolated nervous systems. One and two days after treatment, pairing- and light-specific suppression of phototactic behavior was observed in recovered animals. These findings indicate that the membrane changes of type B cells produced by pairing light with current injections cause acquisition of the learned behavior.