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J Neurophysiol. 2009 Feb;101(2):824-33. doi: 10.1152/jn.91079.2008. Epub 2008 Dec 10.

Polysensory interneuronal projections to foot contractile pedal neurons in Hermissenda.

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Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Texas Medical School, 6431 Fannin Street, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


A Pavlovian-conditioning procedure may produce modifications in multiple behavioral responses. As an example, conditioning may result in the elicitation of a specific somatomotor conditioned response (CR) and, in addition, other motor and visceral CRs. In the mollusk Hermissenda conditioning produces two conditioned responses: foot-shortening and decreased locomotion. The neural circuitry supporting ciliary locomotion is well characterized, although the neural circuit underlying foot-shortening is poorly understood. Here we describe efferent neurons in the pedal ganglion that produce contraction or extension of specific regions of the foot in semi-intact preparations. Synaptic connections between polysensory type Ib and type Is interneurons and identified foot contractile efferent neurons were examined. Type Ib and type Is interneurons receive synaptic input from the visual, graviceptive, and somatosensory systems. Depolarization of type Ib interneurons evoked spikes in identified tail and lateral foot contractile efferent neurons. Mechanical displacement of the statocyst evoked complex excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) and spikes recorded from type Ib and type Is interneurons and complex EPSPs and spikes in identified foot contractile efferent neurons. Depolarization of type Ib interneurons in semi-intact preparations produced contraction and shortening along the rostrocaudal axis of the foot. Depolarization of Is interneurons in semi-intact preparations produced contraction of the anterior region of the foot. Taken collectively, the results suggest that type Ib and type Is polysensory interneurons may contribute to the neural circuit underlying the foot-shortening CR in Hermissenda.

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