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Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2007 Mar;87(3):391-403. Epub 2006 Nov 28.

Stressful stimuli modulate memory formation in Lymnaea stagnalis.

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Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Dr NW, Calgary AB, Canada T2P 1N3.


Stress has been shown to be a strong modulator of learning and memory in animals. We employ operant training of aerial respiratory behaviour in our model system, the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis, to show that application of an acute consistent physical stressor enhances memory formation. A single 30 min operant conditioning training session, which normally results in intermediate-term memory (ITM) persisting 3h, results in long-term memory (LTM) persisting 24h if immediately preceded or followed by a stressor, for example a 30s exposure to 25 mM KCl. Other physical stressors (0.3% quinine-HCl or quick cooling and warming) similarly enhance memory formation. The memory is context specific and is not seen after the application of too much or too little stress. The memory can be extinguished by exposing snails to the hypoxic training environment and withholding reinforcing stimuli. The LTM that results from 30 min of training and stressor exposure is dependent on de novo protein synthesis and gene transcription in a single neuron, RPeD1. Because the soma of RPeD1 must be present for memory augmentation by the application of a stressor we are well placed for future investigations to directly determine the specific molecular alterations by which stress primes the formation of LTM.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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