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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1974 Dec;71(12):5004-8.

A quantal analysis of the synaptic depression underlying habituation of the gill-withdrawal reflex in Aplysia.


Habituation, one of the simplest behavioral paradigms for studying memory, has recently been examined on the cellular level in the gill-withdrawal reflex in the mollusc Aplysia and in the escape response in cray-fish. In both cases short-term habituation involved a decrease in excitatory synaptic transmission at the synapses between the sensory neurons and their central target cells. To analyze the mechanisms of the synaptic depression in Aplysia, we applied a quantal analysis to synaptic transmission between the sensory and motor neurons of the gill-withdrawal reflex. Our results indicate that short-term habituation results from a presynaptic mechanism: a decrease in the number of transmitter quanta released per impulse. The sensitivity of the postsynaptic receptor remains unaltered.

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