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Neuroscience

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Invertebrate Model: Learning in Aplysia

NEURO-8OEEXD

Invertebrate models have been widely used for neuroscience experiments by researchers. These invertebrates – for example, squid, crayfish, cockroaches, and nematode worms – have experimental advantages including simple nervous systems, large accessible neurons, and reproducible neuronal connections.

In 2000, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Eric Kandel of Columbia University, for his seminal work studying the neurobiology of learning in the sea snail, Aplysia californica.

Based on what you know about Eric Kandel's classic experiment, which of the following statements correctly describes the observation or mechanism?

A

When the siphon of the animal is touched, it performs a gill-withdrawal reflex behavior. Repeatedly applying a noxious stimulus (i.e. an electric shock) to the tail of Aplysia leads to an increased gill-withdrawal reflex.

B

Because the animal’s nervous system is too simple, only transient synaptic strengthening can occur in Aplysia.

C

A noxious stimulus to the tail of Aplysia activates its glutaminergic modulatory neurons, which then influence the sensory-motor neuron synapse.

D

Following short-term sensitization, gene expression is altered, new proteins are synthesized, and new synaptic connections are formed between the sensory neuron and the motor neuron in Aplysia, which all together lead to long-lasting synaptic strengthening.