Calcium-mediated reduction of ionic currents: a biophysical memory trace

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Science  30 Nov 1984:
Vol. 226, Issue 4678, pp. 1037-1045
DOI: 10.1126/science.6093258


Learning behavior similar to vertebrate classical conditioning was demonstrated for the mollusc Hermissenda crassicornis. Postsynaptic membrane changes within well-defined neural systems that mediate the learning play a casual role in recording the learned association for later recall. Specific ionic currents in neural tissue undergo transformations lasting days after associative training with physiologic stimuli. During acquisition the intracellular calcium increases; this increase is accompanied by specific potassium current reduction that lasts for days after conditioning. The increase of calcium enhances calmodulin-dependent phosphorylation of proteins that either regulate or are part of ion channels. These currents and the conditions that precede their transformation occur in many types of vertebrate neurons, and hence this biophysical basis of Hermissenda learning could have relevance for species other than the gastropod studied.

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