Serotonin mimics tail shock in producing transient inhibition in the siphon withdrawal reflex of Aplysia

K. Fitzgerald, T. J. Carew

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Tail shock-induced modulation of the siphon withdrawal reflex of Aplysia has recently been shown to have a transient inhibitory component, as well as a facilitatory component. This transient behavioral inhibition is also seen in a reduced preparation in which a cellular reflection of the inhibitory process, tail shock-induced inhibition of complex EPSPs in siphon motor neurons, is observed. The biogenic amine serotonin (5-HT) is known to play a role in the facilitatory aspects of sensitization in Aplysia. The aim of this article was to examine whether 5-HT might also contribute to the inhibitory effects of tail shock in the siphon withdrawal reflex. To examine this question, we carried out two kinds of experiments. First, in the isolated abdominal ganglion, we recorded intracellularly from siphon motor neurons and examined the effects of 5-HT on (1) complex (polysynaptic) EPSPs, produced by siphon nerve stimulation, and, simultaneously, (2) monosynaptic EPSPs from siphon sensory neurons. We found that, paralleling the effects of tail shock in the reduced preparation, 5-HT produced transient inhibition of the complex EPSP; the monosynaptic EPSP was facilitated by 5-HT. Second, we examined the behavioral effects of 5-HT on siphon withdrawal in a reduced preparation. We found that 5-HT again paralleled tail shock by producing transient inhibition of the siphon withdrawal reflex. Our results suggest that, in addition to its well-established facilitatory role in reflex modulation in Aplysia, 5-HT might play an important inhibitory role, as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2510-2518
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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