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PLoS Biol. 2010 May 18;8(5):e1000372. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000372.

Insulin signaling and dietary restriction differentially influence the decline of learning and memory with age.

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  • 1Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States of America.


Of all the age-related declines, memory loss is one of the most devastating. While conditions that increase longevity have been identified, the effects of these longevity-promoting factors on learning and memory are unknown. Here we show that the C. elegans Insulin/IGF-1 receptor mutant daf-2 improves memory performance early in adulthood and maintains learning ability better with age but, surprisingly, demonstrates no extension in long-term memory with age. By contrast, eat-2 mutants, a model of Dietary Restriction (DR), exhibit impaired long-term memory in young adulthood but maintain this level of memory longer with age. We find that crh-1, the C. elegans homolog of the CREB transcription factor, is required for long-term associative memory, but not for learning or short-term memory. The expression of crh-1 declines with age and differs in the longevity mutants, and CREB expression and activity correlate with memory performance. Our results suggest that specific longevity treatments have acute and long-term effects on cognitive functions that decline with age through their regulation of rate-limiting genes required for learning and memory.

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