In vitro analog of operant conditioning in aplysia. II. Modifications of the functional dynamics of an identified neuron contribute to motor pattern selection.
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Previously, an analog of operant conditioning was developed using the buccal ganglia of Aplysia, the probabilistic occurrences of a specific motor pattern (i.e., pattern I), a contingent reinforcement (i.e., stimulation of the esophageal nerve), and monotonic stimulation of a peripheral nerve (i.e., n.2,3). This analog expressed a key feature of operant conditioning (i.e., selective enhancement of the probability of occurrence of a designated motor pattern by contingent reinforcement). In addition, the training induced changes in the dynamical properties of neuron B51, an element of the buccal central pattern generator. To gain insights into the neuronal mechanisms that mediate features of operant conditioning, the present study identified a neuronal element that was critically involved in the selective enhancement of pattern I. We found that bursting activity in cell B51 contributed significantly to the expression of pattern I and that changes in the dynamical properties of this cell were associated with the selective enhancement of pattern I. These changes could be induced by an explicit association of reinforcement with random depolarization of B51. No stimulation of n.2,3 was required. These results indicate that the selection of a designated motor pattern by contingent reinforcement and the underlying neuronal plasticity resulted from the association of reinforcement with a component of central neuronal activity that contributes to a specific motor pattern. The sensory stimulus that allows for occurrences of different motor acts may not be critical for induction of plasticity that mediates the selection of a motor output by contingent reinforcement in operant conditioning.
author list (cited authors)
Nargeot, R., Baxter, D. A., & Byrne, J. H.
complete list of authors
Nargeot, R||Baxter, DA||Byrne, JH