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Sci Rep. 2019 Feb 20;9(1):2371. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-38939-3.

Analysis of Mutants Suggests Kamin Blocking in C. elegans is Due to Interference with Memory Recall Rather than Storage.

Author information

1
Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1A8, Canada. dmerritt@gmail.com.
2
Department of Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1A8, Canada.
3
Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3E1, Canada.
4
Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1A8, Canada.

Abstract

Higher-order conditioning phenomena, including context conditioning and blocking, occur when conditioning to one set of stimuli interacts with conditioning to a second set of stimuli to modulate the strength of the resultant memories. Here we analyze higher-order conditioning in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, demonstrating for the first time the presence of blocking in this animal, and dissociating it from context conditioning. We present an initial genetic dissection of these phenomena in a model benzaldehyde/NH4Cl aversive learning system, and suggest that blocking may involve an alteration of memory retrieval rather than storage. These findings offer a fundamentally different explanation for blocking than traditional explanations, and position C. elegans as a powerful model organism for the study of higher order conditioning.

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