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Anim Cogn. 2012 Jul;15(4):483-94. doi: 10.1007/s10071-012-0472-3. Epub 2012 Feb 22.

Alternate behavioural measurements following a single operant training regime demonstrate differences in memory retention.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, 2104 Health Sciences Centre, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, AB, Canada.


Frequently studies of learning and memory measure a single focal behaviour; however it is likely that any learning paradigm will alter multiple behavioural traits in the same animal. We used video footage of the great pond snail (Lymnaea stagnalis), collected immediately prior to both training and testing for memory in response to operant conditioning to reduce aerial respiration, to measure two additional alternate behavioural traits: reducing the size of the pneumostome (breathing orifice) opening and shell tilt to cover the pneumostome. Typically, the training regime used here results in memory to reduce the number of breathing attempts lasting 24 h but not 72 h. However, memory duration when measured using the two additional behavioural traits differed significantly; shell tilt was short-lived lasting less than 1 h following training, whereas the reduction in pneumostome size was still apparent 72 h following training. Therefore, conclusions about the ability of L. stagnalis to retain memory in response to a single type of training regime will differ significantly depending on the focal behavioural trait measured. A significant correlation between the reduction in opening attempts and visible pneumostome area indicated that these behavioural traits are co-specialised, whereas pneumostome opening and shell tilt behaviour varied independently.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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