Endogenous motor neuron properties contribute to a program-specific phase of activity in the multifunctional feeding central pattern generator of Aplysia. uri icon


  • Multifunctional central pattern generators (CPGs) are circuits of neurons that can generate manifold actions from a single effector system. This study examined a bilateral pair of pharyngeal motor neurons, designated B67, that participate in the multifunctional feeding network of Aplysia californica. Fictive buccal motor programs (BMPs) were elicited with four distinct stimulus paradigms to assess the activity of B67 during ingestive versus egestive patterns. In both classes of programs, B67 fired during the phase of radula protraction and received a potent inhibitory postsynaptic potential (IPSP) during fictive radula retraction. When programs were ingestive, the retraction phase IPSP exhibited a depolarizing sag and was followed by a postinhibitory rebound (PIR) that could generate a postretraction phase of impulse activity. When programs were egestive, the depolarizing sag potential and PIR were both diminished or were not present. Examination of the membrane properties of B67 disclosed a cesium-sensitive depolarizing sag, a corresponding I(h)-like current, and PIR in its responses to hyperpolarizing pulses. Direct IPSPs originating from the influential CPG retraction phase interneuron B64 were also found to activate the sag potential and PIR of B67. Dopamine, a modulator that can promote ingestive behavior in this system, enhanced the sag potential, I(h)-like current, and PIR of B67. Finally, a pharyngeal muscle contraction followed the radula retraction phase of ingestive, but not egestive motor patterns. It is proposed that regulation of the intrinsic properties of this motor neuron can contribute to generating a program-specific phase of motor activity.

publication date

  • July 2007