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J Neurosci. 2000 Nov 15;20(22):8485-92.

Distributed and partially separate pools of neurons are correlated with two different components of the gill-withdrawal reflex in Aplysia.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.


We compared the spike activity of individual neurons in the Aplysia abdominal ganglion with the movement of the gill during the gill-withdrawal reflex. We discriminated four populations that collectively encompass approximately half of the active neurons in the ganglion: (1) second-order sensory neurons that respond to the onset and offset of stimulation of the gill and are active before the movement starts; (2) neurons whose activity is correlated with the position of the gill and typically have a tonic output during gill withdrawal; (3) neurons whose activity is correlated with the velocity of the movement and typically fire in a phasic manner; and (4) neurons whose activity is correlated with both position and velocity. A reliable prediction of the position of the gill is achieved only with the combined output of 15-20 neurons, whereas a reliable prediction of the velocity depends on the combined output of 40 or more cells.

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