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J Neurosci. 2018 Jul 18;38(29):6475-6490. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0547-18.2018. Epub 2018 Jun 22.

Cellular Effects of Repetition Priming in the Aplysia Feeding Network Are Suppressed during a Task-Switch But Persist and Facilitate a Return to the Primed State.

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Department of Neuroscience and Friedman Brain Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York 10029
Department of Neuroscience and Friedman Brain Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York 10029.


Many neural networks are multitasking and receive modulatory input, which configures activity. As a result, these networks can enter a relatively persistent state in which they are biased to generate one type of output as opposed to another. A question we address is as follows: what happens to this type of state when the network is forced to task-switch? We address this question in the feeding system of the mollusc Aplysia This network generates ingestive and egestive motor programs. We focus on an identified neuron that is selectively active when programs are ingestive. Previous work has established that the increase in firing frequency observed during ingestive programs is at least partially mediated by an excitability increase. Here we identify the underlying cellular mechanism as the induction of a cAMP-dependent inward current. We ask how this current is impacted by the subsequent induction of egestive activity. Interestingly, we demonstrate that this task-switch does not eliminate the inward current but instead activates an outward current. The induction of the outward current obviously reduces the net inward current in the cell. This produces the decrease in excitability and firing frequency required for the task-switch. Importantly, however, the persistence of the inward current is not impacted. It remains present and coexists with the outward current. Consequently, when effects of egestive priming and the outward current dissipate, firing frequency and excitability remain above baseline levels. This presumably has important functional implications in that it will facilitate a return to ingestive activity.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Under physiological conditions, an animal generating a particular type of motor activity can be forced to at least briefly task-switch. In some circumstances, this involves the temporary induction of an "antagonistic" or incompatible motor program. For example, ingestion can be interrupted by a brief period of egestive activity. In this type of situation, it is often desirable for behavioral switching to occur rapidly and efficiently. In this report, we focus on a particular aspect of this type of task-switch. We determine how the priming that occurs when a multitasking network repeatedly generates one type of motor activity can be retained during the execution of an incompatible motor program.


excitability; neuromodulation; priming; task-switch

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