Proprioceptive input to feeding motor programs in Aplysia

Colin G. Evans, Elizabeth C. Cropper

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56 Scopus citations


Although central pattern generators (CPGs) can produce rhythmic activity in isolation, it is now generally accepted that under physiological conditions information from the external and internal environment is incorporated into CPG-induced motor programs. Experimentally advantageous invertebrate preparations may be particularly useful for studies that seek to characterize the cellular mechanisms that make this possible. In these experiments, we study sensorimotor integration in the feeding circuitry of the mollusc Aplysia. We show that a premotor neuron with plateau properties, B51, is important for generating the radula closing/retraction phase of ingestive motor programs. When B51 is depolarized in semi-intact preparations, radula closing/retractions are enhanced. When B51 is hyperpolarized, radula closing/retractions are reduced in size. In addition to being important as a premotor interneuron, B51 is also a sensory neuron that is activated when the feeding apparatus, the radula, rotates backward. The number of centripetal spikes in B51 is increased if the resistance to backward rotation is increased. Thus, B51 is a proprioceptor that is likely to be part of a feedback loop that insures that food will be moved into the buccal cavity when difficulty is encountered. Our data suggest, therefore, that Aplysia are able to adjust feeding motor programs to accommodate the specific qualities of the food ingested because at least one of the neurons that generates the basic ingestive motor program also serves as an on-line monitor of the success of radula movements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8016-8031
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number19
StatePublished - 1 Oct 1998


  • Aplysia
  • Central pattern generator
  • Feeding behavior
  • Load compensation
  • Plateau potentials
  • Proprioceptive input


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