Neuronal Mechanisms of Habituation and Dishabituation of the Gill-Withdrawal Reflex in Aplysia

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Science  27 Mar 1970:
Vol. 167, Issue 3926, pp. 1745-1748
DOI: 10.1126/science.167.3926.1745


The cellular mechanisms of habituation and dishabituation of the gill-withdrawal reflex in Aplysia were studied with an isolated abdominal ganglion connected to a piece of skin from the tactile receptive field of the reflex. By obtaining simultaneous intracellular recordings from both the sensory neurons and one of the main identified motor neurons, we have been able to reduce the reflex to its monosynaptic components. The monosynaptic excitatory postsynaptic potentials showed a profound low-frequency depression when repeatedly elicited and showed heterosynaptic facilitation after application of a strong stimulus to another pathway. Thus, both habituation and dishabituation can be explained in part and perhaps entirely by changes in the efficacy of specific excitatory synapses.

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