Pattern Generation and Neuromodulation
At the present time, along with students in my laboratory, I am investigating the CPGs which produce rhythmic feeding, swallowing and swimming behaviors in the nudibranch, Melibe leonina. We have identified the CPGs in the brain and buccal ganglia which produce the swimming and swallowing behaviors but the location of the feeding CPG is still in question.
Once we have identified the neural networks that produce a given behavior it becomes possible to study how these networks interact with each other (behavioral choice) and how they are modulated and turned on and off.
Melibe swim spontaneously, and in response to contact with a potential predatory, such as a predatory starfish. Spontaneous swimming appears to be influenced by light, and time of day (see figure). Swimming, in intact animals and isolated brains, appears to be inhibited by light (see Figure 5).