Planarians possess a rudimentary brain with many features in common with vertebrate brains. They also display a remarkable capacity for tissue regeneration including the complete regeneration of the nervous system. Using the induction of planarian seizure-like movements (pSLMs) as a behavioral endpoint, we demonstrate that an intact nervous system is necessary for this organism to react to cocaine exposure, but not necessary to react to nicotine administration. Decapitated planarians (Girardia tigrina) display pSLMs indistinguishable from intact worms when exposed to nicotine, but cocaine-induced pSLMs are reduced by about 95% upon decapitation. Decapitated worms recover their normal sensitivity to cocaine within five days after head amputation. In worms where half of the brain was removed or partially dissected, the expression of cocaine-induced pSLMs was reduced by approximately 75 %. Similar amputations at the level of the tail did not show a significant decrease to cocaine exposure. To the best of our knowledge, our work is the first report that explores how regenerating planarians react to the exposure of cocaine.
Pagán, O. R., Deats, S., Baker, D., Montgomery, E., Wilk, G., Tenaglia, M., & Semon, J. (2013). Planarians require an intact brain to behaviorally react to cocaine, but not to react to nicotine. Neuroscience, 246, 265-270. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.05.010