Pavlovian conditioning of distinct components of Hermissenda's responses to rotation

Louis D. Matzel, Bernard G. Schreurs, Daniel L. Alkon

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26 Scopus citations


In two experiments with the nudibranch mollusk Hermissenda, distinct characteristics of conditioned and unconditioned responses to high-speed orbital rotation were examined. In Experiment 1, two principle unconditioned responses to rotation were identified, namely, reduced rate of locomotion and contraction of the foot. The magnitude of the foot contraction increased throughout a 20-s period of rotation, whereas locomotion was reduced immediately after the onset of the rotation and was maintained at this constant low rate throughout the stimulus presentation. These divergent response patterns suggest that the two responses emerge independently. In Experiment 2, a classical conditioning procedure was employed in which a light (CS) was paired with the rotation (US) employed in Experiment 1. In a subsequent test, it was found that the light had acquired the capability to evoke both foot contraction and decreased locomotion. Although the magnitude of these conditioned responses was reduced relative to the corresponding unconditioned response, the patterns of responding were virtually identical; that is, foot contraction developed gradually whereas locomotion decreased immediately. In contrast, animals that received unpaired presentations of the light and rotation, light alone, or no prior exposure to those stimuli exhibited foot extension in response to the light. These results illustrate a transfer of some of the response-evoking properties of the US to the CS as a result of conditioning, as well as the emergence of two independent conditioned responses. Moreover, these results suggest modulation of at least two distinct motor pathways as a function of learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-145
Number of pages15
JournalBehavioral and Neural Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1990
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology

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