Development of sensitization in the escape locomotion system in Aplysia

M. Stopfer, T. J. Carew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development of several forms of nonassociative learning (habituation, dishabituation, and sensitization) has previously been examined in the gill and siphon withdrawal reflex of Aplysia. In the present study we analyzed the development of one of these forms of learning, sensitization, in a different response system in Aplysia, escape locomotion. A broad range of juvenile stages was examined: stages 10, 11, early 12, late 12, and 13 (early adult). We found that sensitization was completely absent in early developmental stages, not appearing until late stage 12. This stage of development is particularly interesting because it is at this same point that (1) sensitization first appears in the gill and siphon withdrawal reflex (Rankin and Carew, 1987), and (2) the cellular analog of sensitization first emerges in the CNS (the abdominal ganglion) of juvenile Aplysia (Nolen and Carew, 1987). The fact that sensitization emerges synchronously in the escape locomotion system and the gill withdrawal system is striking because the 2 response system differ markedly in their intrinsic developmental timetables, response topography, and underlying neural circuitry. Thus, the emergence of sensitization in both systems at the same late stage of juvenile development suggests the possibility that a single, unified process during development may be responsible for the simultaneous expression of sensitization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-230
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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