Temporal and spatial aspects of an environmental stimulus influence the dynamics of behavioral regulation of the Aplysia siphon-withdrawal response

Calin-Jageman RJ, Fischer TM

Behav. Neurosci. 2003 Jun;117(3):555-65

PMID: 12802884

Abstract

Exposure to turbulence, an environmental stimulus, produces behavioral adaptation in the Aplysia siphon-withdrawal response (SWR). The authors show that the duration and spatial extent of turbulence influence adaptation recovery. In terms of duration, recovery in whole animals and reduced preparations (tail, siphon, and CNS) was more rapid after longer exposures to turbulence (10 min) than after briefer exposures (10 s-5 min). In terms of spatial extent, recovery in reduced preparations was more rapid after diffuse turbulence (tail and siphon together) compared with focal turbulence (siphon alone). Furthermore, spatial extent and duration interact: Duration regulates recovery only when turbulence is diffuse. Results suggest that SWR adaptation reflects a composite of cellular processes, including short-term synaptic enhancement in L30 inhibitory interneurons.

Synaptic augmentation contributes to environment-driven regulation of the aplysia siphon-withdrawal reflex

Calin-Jageman RJ, Fischer TM

J. Neurosci. 2003 Dec;23(37):11611-20

PMID: 14684863

Abstract

This research shows that short-term synaptic plasticity can play a critical role in shaping the behavioral response to environmental change. In Aplysia, exposure to turbulent environments produces a stable reduction in the duration of the siphon-withdrawal reflex (SWR) and the responsiveness of siphon motor neurons. Recovery takes >1 min after a brief (10 sec-5 min) exposure but <1 min after a long (10 min) exposure. Here we demonstrate that (1) in-turbulence and post-turbulence phases of regulation depend on different cellular processes and (2) the post-turbulence phase of regulation is mediated by augmentation (AUG), an activity-dependent form of short-term synaptic plasticity. In reduced preparations (tail, siphon, and CNS), we show that treatment with 100 microm d-tubocurarine has no effect on in-turbulence regulation but blocks up to 90% of post-turbulence regulation, indicating that these phases of regulation are mediated by distinct cellular process. We then show that (1) turbulence induces activity in L30 inhibitory interneurons, (2) this activation produces AUG that lasts 1 min after a brief exposure to turbulence, and (3) manipulations that attenuate L30 AUG also attenuate regulation after brief turbulence. We also found that long (10 min) exposures to turbulence do not produce a post-turbulence phase of regulation because L30 activity declines over the course of a long turbulence exposure, leading to the decay of AUG before turbulence offset. Our results demonstrate a specific behavioral function of AUG and show how interactions between cellular processes can confer temporal sensitivity in the network regulation of behavior.