Conditioning pp 197-211 | Cite as

Cellular Basis of Operant-Conditioning of Leg Position

  • Graham Hoyle
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 26)


Leg position learning is accomplished rapidly and successfully by insect thoracic ganglia in operant-conditioning paradigms using either negative or positive reinforcements. This opens up the possibility of analysis of the cellular mechanisms underlying learning and retention because the neurons are relatively few in number, identifiable and repeatedly addressable. Starting with positions controlled by single identified motorneurons we find that these are changed in relation to reinforcement either by very long-lasting frequency shifts or by adjustment of the strength and repetition interval of spontaneously-occurring plateau movements, depending on the paradigm. Postural change is accomplished by altered resistance of a motorneuron, specifically associated with potassium conductance. The resistance range is from 3–10 M Ω , with associated mean frequency range of 5–30 Hz. Only goal-related inputs lead to postural shifts, by way of association of reinforcement with efference or afference memory.


Motor Output Ghost Crab Learning Change Anterior Adductor National Science Foundation Research 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Burrows, M., and Siegler, M. V. S., 1978. Graded synaptic transmission between local interneurones and motor neurones in the metathoracic ganglion of the locust. J. Physiol., 285: 231–255.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Eisenstein, E. M., 1972. Learning and memory in isolated insect ganglia. Adv. Insect Physiol., 9: 111–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Eisenstein, E. M., and Cohen, M. J., 1965. Learning in an isolated prothoracic insect ganglion. Anim. Behay., 13: 104–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Horridge, G. A., 1962. Learning leg position by the ventral nerve cord of headless insects. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B., 157: 33–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hoyle, G., Neurophysiological studies on ‘learning’ in headless insects. in: “Physiology of Insect Central Nervous Systems”. J. Treherne, ed., Academic Press, London & N. Y. (1965).Google Scholar
  6. Hoyle, G., 1966. An isolated ganglion-nerve-muscle preparation. J. Exp. Biol., 44: 413–429.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Hoyle, G., 1975. Identified neurons and the future of neuroethology. J. Exp. Zool., 194: 51–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hoyle, G., 1976. Learning of leg position by the ghost crab Ocypode ceratophthalma. Behavioral Biol., 18: 147–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hoyle, G., 1979. Mechanisms of simple motor learning. Trends in Neurosci., 2: 153–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hoyle, G., 1980a. Learning, using natural reinforcements, in insect preparations that permit cellular neuronal analysis. J. Neurobiol., 11: 323–354.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hoyle, G., Neural mechanisms. in: “Insect Biology in the Future”.Google Scholar
  12. M. Locke and D. S. Smith, eds., Academic Press, London & N. Y. (1980b).Google Scholar
  13. Hoyle, G., The role of pacemaker activity in learning. in: “Cellular Pacemakers”. D. O. Carpenter, ed., Wiley, N. Y. (1982).Google Scholar
  14. Tosney, T., and Hoyle, G., 1977. Computer-controlled learning in a simple system. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B., 195: 365–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Woollacott, M., and Hoyle, G., 1977. Neural events underlying learning: changes in pacemaker. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B., 195: 395–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Graham Hoyle
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA

Personalised recommendations