A shift in motivational state often produces behavioral change, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. In the marine mollusc, Aplysia californica, feeding-induced transition from a hunger to satiation state leads to a slowdown and an eventual termination of feeding. Because the multifunctional feeding network generates both ingestion and the competing response, egestion, it is possible that the transition from a hunger to a satiety state is associated with network reconfiguration that results in production of fewer ingestive and more egestive responses. Chronic electrophysiological recordings in free-feeding Aplysia showed that as the meal progressed, food elicited fewer ingestive responses and simultaneously increased the number of egestive responses. Injections of Aplysia neuropeptide Y (apNPY) reduced food intake and slowed down the rate of ingestion. apNPY was localized to buccal-ganglion afferents originating in the gut-innervating esophageal nerve (EN), a nerve involved both in satiation and in the generation of egestive programs. During EN stimulation, apNPY was released in the feeding circuit. Importantly, stimulation of the cerebral-buccal interneuron-2, a command-like interneuron that is activated by food and normally elicits ingestive responses, elicited egestive responses in the presence of apNPY. This was accompanied by increased activity of the egestion-promoting interneuron B20 and decreased activity in the ingestion-promoting interneuron B40. Thus, apNPYergic reconfiguration of the feeding central pattern generator plays a role in the gradual transition from hunger to satiety states. More generally, changes in the motivational states may involve not only simple network inhibition but may also require network reconfiguration.
- Motivational state
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