Associative conditioning of single sensory neurons suggests a cellular mechanism for learning

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Science  28 Jan 1983:
Vol. 219, Issue 4583, pp. 405-408
DOI: 10.1126/science.6294834


A cellular analog of associative learning has been demonstrated in individual sensory neurons of the tail withdrawal reflex of Aplysia. Sensory cells activated by intracellular current injection shortly before a sensitizing shock to the animal's tail display significantly more facilitation of their monosynaptic connections to a tail motor neuron than cells trained either with intracellular stimulation unpaired to tail shock or with tail shock alone. This associative effect is acquired rapidly and is expressed as a temporally specific amplification of heterosynaptic facilitation. The results suggest that activity-dependent neuromodulation may be a mechanism underlying associative information storage and point to aspects of subcellular processes that might be involved in the formation of neural associations.

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