Variables Controlling Entry into and Exit from the Steady-State, One of Two Modes of Feeding in Aplysia

Nimrod Miller, Silvia Marcovich, Abraham J. Susswein

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3 Scopus citations


Background: Aplysia feeding is a model system for examining the neural mechanisms by which changes in motivational state control behavior. When food is intermittently present, Aplysia eat large meals controlled by a balance between food stimuli exciting feeding and gut stimuli inhibiting feeding. However, when food is continuously present animals are in a state in which feeding is relatively inhibited and animals eat little. We examined which stimuli provided by food and feeding initiate steady-state inhibition of feeding, and which stimuli maintain the inhibition. Results: Multiple stimuli were found to control entry into the steady-state inhibition, and its maintenance. The major variable governing entry into the steady-state is fill of the gut with bulk provided by food, but this stimulus cannot alone cause entry into the steady-state. Food odor and nutritional stimuli such as increased hemolymph glucose and L-arginine concentrations also contribute to inhibition of feeding leading to entry into the steady-state. Although food odor can alone cause some inhibition of feeding, it does not amplify the effect of gut fill. By contrast, neither increased hemolymph glucose nor L-arginine alone inhibits feeding in hungry animals, but both amplify the inhibitory effects of food odor, and increased glucose also amplifies the effect of gut fill. The major variable maintaining the steady-state is the continued presence of food odor, which can alone maintain the steady-state for 48-72 hrs. Neither increased glucose nor L-arginine can alone preserve the steady-state, although they partially preserve it. Glucose and arginine partially extend the effect of food odor after 72 hrs. Conclusions: These findings show that control of Aplysia feeding is more complex than was previously thought, in that multiple inhibitory factors interact in its control.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere45241
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
StatePublished - 28 Sep 2012


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