Fast synaptic connections from CBIs to pattern-generating neurons in Aplysia: Initiation and modification of motor programs

Itay Hurwitz, Irving Kupfermann, Klaudiusz R. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Consummatory feeding movements in Aplysia californica are organized by a central pattern generator (CPG) in the buccal ganglia. Buccal motor programs similar to those organized by the CPG are also initiated and controlled by the cerebro-buccal interneurons (CBIs), interneurons projecting from the cerebral to the buccal ganglia. To examine the mechanisms by which CBIs affect buccal motor programs, we have explored systematically the synaptic connections from three of the CBIs (CBI-1, CBI-2, CBI-3) to key buccal ganglia CPG neurons (B31/B32, B34, and B63). The CBIs were found to produce monosynaptic excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) with both fast and slow components. In this report, we have characterized only the fast component. CBI-2 monosynaptically excites neurons B31/B32, B34, and B63, all of which can initiate motor programs when they are sufficiently stimulated. However, the ability of CBI-2 to initiate a program stems primarily from the excitation of B63. In B31/B32, the size of the EPSPs was relatively small and the threshold for excitation was very high. In addition, preventing firing in either B34 or B63 showed that only a block in B63 firing prevented CBI-2 from initiating programs in response to a brief stimulus. The connections from CBI-2 to the buccal ganglia neurons showed a prominent facilitation. The facilitation contributed to the ability of CBI-2 to initiate a BMP and also led to a change in the form of the BMP. The cholinergic blocker hexamethonium blocked the fast EPSPs induced by CBI-2 in buccal ganglia neurons and also blocked the EPSPs between a number of key CPG neurons within the buccal ganglia. CBI-2 and B63 were able to initiate motor patterns in hexamethonium, although the form of a motor pattern was changed, indicating that non-hexamethonium-sensitive receptors contribute to the ability of these cells to initiate bursts. By contrast to CBI-2, CBI-1 excited B63 but inhibited B34. CBI-3 excited B34 and not B63. The data indicate that CBI-1, -2, and -3 are components of a system that initiates and selects between buccal motor programs. Their behavioral function is likely to depend on which combination of CBIs and CPG elements are activated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2120-2136
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2003


FundersFunder number
National Institute of Mental HealthR37MH035564


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