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J Exp Biol. 2019 Jan 10. pii: jeb.190405. doi: 10.1242/jeb.190405. [Epub ahead of print]

Configural learning: a higher form of learning in Lymnaea.

Author information

1
Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
2
Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada lukowiak@ucalgary.ca.

Abstract

Events typically occur in a specific context and the ability to assign importance to this occurrence plays a significant role in memory formation and recall. When the scent of a crayfish predator (CE) is encountered in Lymnaea strains known to be predator-experienced (e.g. the W-strain), enhancement of memory formation and depression of feeding occurs, which are part of a suite of anti-predator behaviours. We hypothesized that Lymnaea possess a form of higher-order conditioning, namely configural learning. We tested this by simultaneously exposing W-strain Lymnaea to a carrot food-odour (CO) and predator scent (CE). Two hours later we operantly conditioned these snails with a single 0.5h training session in CO to determine whether training in CO results in long-term memory (LTM). In W-strain snails two 0.5h training sessions are required to cause LTM formation. A series of control experiments followed and demonstrated that only the CO+CE snails trained in CO had acquired enhanced memory forming ability. Additionally, following CE+CO pairing, CO no longer elicited an increased feeding response. Hence, snails have the ability to undergo configural learning. Following configural learning, CO becomes risk-signaling and evokes behavioural responses phenotypically similar to those elicited by exposure to CE.

KEYWORDS:

Anti-predator behaviour; Higher order learning; Lymnaea; Operant conditioning; Predator-prey interactions

PMID:
30630965
DOI:
10.1242/jeb.190405

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