Escape swimming in the predatory sea slug Pleurobranchaea is a dominant behavior that overrides feeding, a behavioral switch caused by swim-induced inhibition of feeding command neurons. We have now found distinct roles for the different swim interneurons in acute suppression of feeding during the swim and in a longer-term stimulation of excitability in the feeding network. The identified pattern-generating swim neurons A1, A3, A10, and their follower interneuron A-ci1, suppress feeding motor output partly by excitation of the I1 feeding interneurons, which monosynaptically inhibit both the feeding command neurons, PC(P), PSE, and other major interneurons, the I2s. This mechanism exerts broad inhibition of the feeding network suitable to an escape response; broader than feeding suppression in learned and satiation-induced food avoidance and acting through a different presynaptic pathway. Four intrinsic neuromodulatory neurons of the swim network, the serotonergic As1-4, add little to direct suppression of feeding. Rather, they monosynaptically excite the serotonergic metacerebral giant (MCG) neurons of the feeding network, themselves intrinsic neuromodulators of feeding, as well as a cluster of adjacent serotonergic feeding neurons, with both fast and slow EPSPs. They also provide mild neuromodulatory excitation of the PC(P)/PSE feeding command neurons, and I1 and I2 feeding interneurons, which is masked by inhibition during the swim. As1-4 also excite the serotonergic pedal ganglion G neurons for creeping locomotion. These observations further delineate the nature of the putative serotonergic arousal system of gastropods and suggest a central coordinating role to As1- 4.
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