Peripheral neuronal somata are scattered throughout the enteric nervous system (ENS) in Aplysia. We found that somata on the outer surface of the digestive tract were more densely distributed on the stomatogastric ring and the posterior gizzard than on other regions. In preparations with or without the central nervous system, two types of synchronous bursting activity were recorded from the nerves of the ENS. Some of the synchronous bursts were recorded from nerves on the crop and stomatogastric ring, whereas others were recorded from nerves on the crop, stomatogastric ring, and gizzard. Experiments using preparations in which the different regions were separated suggested that the former bursts originated in neurons on the crop and the latter originated in neurons on the gizzard. Axonal projections of neurons on the different regions were examined by backfilling and analysis of the direction of impulse conduction. Blocking chemical synapses in separated gizzards depressed EPSP-like potentials and eliminated the bursting activities. When chemical synapses on the crop and stomatogastric ring but not on the gizzard were blocked in a whole digestive tract preparation, bursting activity recorded from nerves on all the regions was decreased, although the frequency of the bursting rhythm did not change. Stimulation of a neuron on the crop elicited bursts in nerves on the gizzard. These results suggest that chemical synaptic connections and a feedback loop along the digestive tract coordinate the synchrony of bursting activity originating in the gizzard.
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