Learned changes of respiratory pump rate in response to lowered pH in Aplysia

Miriam Levy, Abraham J. Susswein

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    6 Scopus citations


    Respiratory pumping in the marine gastropod Aplysia is a well-characterized behavior controlled by identified neurons. The behavior is affected by stimuli such as change in ambient pH and shock. This study investigates learned changes in effects of these stimuli on rate of respiratory pumping movements. A sharp threshold exists for effects of environmental pH on respiratory pumping. Lowering the ambient pH from 7.8 to 7.0 does not affect the rate of respiratory pumping movements, but when pH is decreased further to 6.5 a large increase in pump rate is seen. Sensitizing stimuli, such as brief head shock and preexposure to pH 7.0, change the threshold so that respiratory pumping rate is increased in pH 7.0. Pairing exposure to pH 7.0 with head shock leads to pairing-specific amplification of the response in pH 7.0 alone. Pairing-specific consequences can be distinguished from sensitization only after an hour.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)218-233
    Number of pages16
    JournalBehavioral and Neural Biology
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Nov 1990

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    We thank Sylvia Markovich for help with some experiments, and Yair Achituv, Miriam Schwarz, Israel Ziv, and Itai Horowitz for comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript. This paper presents data that are part of a Ph.D. dissertation by Miriam Levy. The work was supported in part by the Israel Institute for Psychobiology-Charles E. Smith Family Foundation Grant 17/88, and by the Health Sciences Research Center of Bar-Ilan University. Send reprint requests to Dr. Susswein.


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