Network states are often determined by modulators that alter the synaptic and cellular properties of the constituent neurons. Frequently neuromodulators act via second messengers, consequently their effects can persist. This persistence at the cellular/molecular level determines the maintenance of the state at the network level. Here we study a feeding network in Aplysia. In this network, persistent modulation supports the maintenance of an ingestive state, biasing the network to generate ingestive motor programs. Neuropeptides that exert cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) dependent effects play an important role in inducing the ingestive state. Most commonly, modulatory effects exerted through cAMP signaling are persistent as a consequence of PKA activation. This is not the case in the neurons we study. Instead maintenance of the network state depends on the persistence of cAMP itself. Data strongly suggest that this is a consequence of the direct activation of a cyclic nucleotide gated current.
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