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J Neurosci. 2012 Dec 5;32(49):17740-52. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4137-12.2012.

Removal of default state-associated inhibition during repetition priming improves response articulation.

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Department of Neuroscience, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029, USA.


Behavior is a product of both the stimuli encountered and the current internal state. At the level of the nervous system, the internal state alters the biophysical properties of, and connections between, neurons establishing a "network state." To establish a network state, the nervous system must be altered from an initial default/resting state, but what remains unclear is the extent to which this process represents induction from a passive default state or the removal of suppression by an active default state. We use repetition priming (a history-dependent improvement of behavioral responses to repeatedly encountered stimuli) to determine the cellular mechanisms underlying the transition from the default to the primed network state. We demonstrate that both removal of active suppression and induction of neuron excitability changes each contribute separately to the production of a primed state. The feeding system of Aplysia californica displays repetition priming via an increase in the activity of the radula closure neuron B8, which results in increased bite strength with each motor program. We found that during priming, B8 received progressively less inhibitory input from the multifunctional neurons B4/5. Additionally, priming enhanced the excitability of B8, but the rate at which B8 activity increased as a result of these changes was regulated by the progressive removal of inhibitory input. Thus, the establishment of the network state involves the induction of processes from a rested state, yet the consequences of these processes are conditional upon critical gating mechanisms actively enforced by the default state.

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