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J Neurophysiol. 2003 May;89(5):2420-9.

Interneuronal projections to identified cilia-activating pedal neurons in Hermissenda.

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Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Texas Medical School, Houston 77030, USA.


Neural networks have been shown to support the generation of more than one behavioral motor act. In the nudibranch mollusk Hermissenda, Pavlovian conditioning results in light, the conditioned stimulus (CS), evoking both inhibition of locomotion and foot contraction. The synaptic organization of the eyes and optic ganglion is well documented; however, the characterization of the neural network mediating visually modulated behaviors is incomplete. We have now characterized synaptic connections between identified photoreceptors and a newly identified interneuron (II(b)), identified synaptic projections from type I and type II interneurons to an inhibitory interneuron (III(i)) and to two newly identified pedal neurons, VP1 and VP2. Here we show that VP1 activates ciliary movement on the anterior foot and VP2 innervates the anterior foot and ventral tentacle. Stimulation of the photoreceptors with light produced two effects on the activity of VP1 and VP2. First, light inhibits type I(i) and II(i) interneurons and disinhibits VP1 and VP2. Depolarization of type II(e) interneurons also disinhibits VP1 and VP2. Second, the light-elicited depolarization and increased tonic activity of VP1 and VP2 is produced by excitatory synaptic input from ipsilateral and contralateral type II(b) interneurons. Pedal neurons VP1 and VP2 receive similar synaptic input from type I, II, and III(i) interneurons; this is in agreement with previous research showing that the visual pathway influences both ciliary locomotion and foot movement. The organization of the visual system in Hermissenda provides for the expression of cellular and synaptic plasticity supporting learning without altering the networks ability to carry out the requirements for normal visual processing.

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