Associative learning and memory in Lymnaea stagnalis: how well do they remember?

J Exp Biol. 2003 Jul;206(Pt 13):2097-103. doi: 10.1242/jeb.00374.


The search for 'the how and the where' of memory formation in the brain, the engram, is still one of the unattained 'Holy Grails' of neuroscience. Over the years, various paths have been trodden in attempts to attain this goal, and while tantalizing glimpses appear now and then on the scientific horizon, the Grail still has not been grasped. One of the paths that investigators have walked is the invertebrate 'model system' approach. Some invertebrates possess relatively simple nervous systems that mediate relatively simple behaviours that are both interesting and trainable. In this commentary, we would like to shed light on a relatively new player, the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis L., that is being used in the quest to illuminate 'the how and the where' the nervous systems encode and store memory. We will show that it is possible to demonstrate that a single neuron is a site of memory formation and storage for a form of associative learning in this lowly snail. It may be that the Grail is a little closer to being grasped.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Operant / physiology
  • Lymnaea / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Models, Animal