Two pairs of serotonin-containing neurones, designated cells 21 and 61, were characterized physiologically and anatomically in the hirudinid leeches Macrobdella decora and Hirudo medicinalis. Both of these cells are bilaterally paired interneurones and each cell is weakly electrically coupled to the other serotonin-containing cells both intra- and interganglionically. Cells 21 and 61 are excited polysynaptically by individual identified mechano-sensory neurones. Segmental nerve shock sufficient to elicit an episode of swimming strongly excites cells 21 and 61, which then tend to generate bursts of impulses that are phase-locked to the swim motor pattern. Intracellular stimulation of either cell 21 or cell 61 often causes the initiation of swimming, acting in parallel with the nonserotonergic swim-initiator cell 204. Cells 61 and 204 are also weakly electrically coupled. The latency to swim onset by stimulating cell 21 or 61 is similar to that of cell 204 and different from that of the serotonergic Retzius cell. This result, with those in the accompanying paper (Nusbaum, 1986), suggests that unlike the Retzius cell and similar to cell 204, cells 21 and 61 synaptically contact cells of the swim central pattern generator (CPG).

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