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Neuroscience. 2005;130(1):37-50.

Antennal tactile learning in the honeybee: effect of nicotinic antagonists on memory dynamics.

Author information

Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale, CNRS UMR 5169, Université Paul Sabatier, Bât 4R3, 118 route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse, Cedex 04, France.

Erratum in

  • Neuroscience. 2005;131(1):255.


Restrained worker honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) are able to learn to associate antennal-scanning of a metal plate with a sucrose reinforcement delivered to the mouthparts. Learning occurs reliably in a single association of the two sensory stimuli. The involvement of nicotinic pathways in memory formation and retrieval processes was tested by injecting, into the whole brain through the median ocellus, either mecamylamine (0.6 microg per bee) or alpha-bungarotoxin (2.4 ng per bee). Saline served as a control. Mecamylamine injected 10 min before the retrieval test impairs the retention level tested 3 h and 24 h after single- or multi-trial learning. Retrieval tests performed at various times after the injection show that the blocking effect of mecamylamine lasts about 1 h. The drug has no effect on the reconsolidation or extinction processes. Mecamylamine injected 10 min before conditioning impairs single-trial learning but has no effect on five-trial learning and on the consolidation process. By contrast, alpha-bungarotoxin only impairs the formation of long-term memory (24 h) induced by the five-trial learning and has no effect on medium-term memory (3 h), on single-trial learning or on the retrieval process. Hence, owing to previous data, at least two kinds of nicotinic receptors seem to be involved in honeybee memory, an alpha-bungarotoxin-sensitive and an alpha-bungarotoxin-insensitive receptor. Our results extend to antennal mechanosensory conditioning the role of the cholinergic system that we had previously described for olfactory conditioning in the honeybee. Moreover, we describe here in this insect a pharmacological dissociation between alpha-bungarotoxin sensitive long-term memory and alpha-bungarotoxin insensitive medium-term memory, the last one being affected by mecamylamine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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