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Neuroscience. 2010 Aug 11;169(1):52-64. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.04.050. Epub 2010 Apr 28.

Serotonin is a facilitatory neuromodulator of synaptic transmission and "reinforces" long-term potentiation induction in the vertical lobe of Octopus vulgaris.

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Department of Neurobiology, Institute of Life Sciences and the Interdisciplinary Center for Neural Computation, Edmond J Safra Campus, Givat Ram Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.


The modern cephalopod mollusks (coleoids) are considered the most behaviorally advanced invertebrate, yet little is known about the neurophysiological basis of their behaviors. Previous work suggested that the vertical lobe (VL) of cephalopods is a crucial site for the learning and memory components of these behaviors. We are therefore studying the neurophysiology of the VL in Octopus vulgaris and have discovered a robust activity-dependent long-term potentiation (LTP) of the synaptic input to the VL. Moreover, we have shown that the VL and its LTP are involved in behavioral long-term memory acquisition. To advance our understanding of the VL as a learning neural network we explore the possible involvement of neuromodulation in VL function. Here we examine whether the well studied serotonergic modulation in simple models of learning in gastropods mollusks is conserved in the octopus VL. We demonstrate histochemically that the VL is innervated by afferent terminals containing 5-HT immunoreactivity (5-HT-IR). Physiologically, 5-HT has a robust facilitatory effect on synaptic transmission and activity-dependent LTP induction. These results suggest that serotonergic neuromodulation is a part of a reinforcing/reward signaling system conserved in both simple and complex learning systems of mollusks. However, there are notable functional differences. First, the effective concentration of 5-HT in the VL is rather high (100 microM); secondly, only neuropilar regions but not cell bodies in the VL are innervated by terminals containing 5-HT-IR. Thirdly, repetitive or long exposures to 5-HT do not lead to a clear long-term facilitation. We propose that in the octopus VL, while the basic facilitatory properties of molluscan 5-HT system are conserved, the system has adapted to convey signals from other brain areas to reinforce the activity-dependent associations at specific sites in the large connections matrix in the VL.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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