Short- and long-term synaptic facilitation induced by serotonin at Aplysia sensory-motor (SN-MN) synapses has been widely used as a cellular model of short- and long-term memory for sensitization. In recent years, a distinct intermediate phase of synaptic facilitation (ITF) has been described at SN-MN synapses. Here, we identify a novel intermediate phase of behavioral memory (ITM) for sensitization in Aplysia and demonstrate that it shares the temporal and mechanistic features of ITF in the intact CNS: (1) it declines completely prior to the onset of LTM, (2) its induction requires protein but not RNA synthesis, and (3) its expression requires the persistent activation of protein kinase A. Thus, in Aplysia, the same temporal and molecular characteristics that distinguish ITF from other phases of synaptic plasticity distinguish ITM from other phases of behavioral memory.
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