The pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis is capable of being classically conditioned to avoid food and to consolidate this aversion into a long-term memory (LTM). Previous studies have shown that the length of food deprivation is important for both the acquisition of taste aversion and its consolidation into LTM, which is referred to as conditioned taste aversion (CTA). Here we tested the hypothesis that the hemolymph glucose concentration is an important factor in the learning and memory of CTA. One-day food deprivation resulted in the best learning and memory, whereas more prolonged food deprivation had diminishing effects. Five-day food deprivation resulted in snails incapable of learning or remembering. During this food deprivation period, the hemolymph glucose concentration decreased. If snails were fed for 2. days following the 5-day food deprivation, their glucose levels increased significantly and they exhibited both learning and memory, but neither learning nor memory was as good as with the 1-day food-deprived snails. Injection of the snails with insulin to reduce glucose levels resulted in better learning and memory. Insulin is also known to cause a long-term enhancement of synaptic transmission between the feeding-related neurons. On the other hand, injection of glucose into 5-day food-deprived snails did not alter their inability to learn and remember. However, if these snails were fed on sucrose for 3. min, they then exhibited learning and memory formation. Our data suggest that hemolymph glucose concentration is an important factor in motivating acquisition of CTA in Lymnaea and that the action of insulin in the brain and the feeding behavior are also important factors.
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