Associative learning phenomena in the snail (Helix aspersa): conditioned inhibition

Learn Behav. 2012 Mar;40(1):34-41. doi: 10.3758/s13420-011-0042-6.


Two experiments using garden snails (Helix aspersa) showed conditioned inhibition using both retardation and summation tests. Conditioned inhibition is a procedure by which a stimulus becomes a predictor of the absence of a relevant event--the unconditioned stimulus (US). Typically, conditioned inhibition consists of pairings between an initially neutral conditioned stimulus, CS(2), and an effective excitatory conditioned stimulus, CS(1), in the absence of the US. Retardation and summation tests are required in order to confirm that CS(2) has acquired inhibitory properties. Conditioned inhibition has previously been found in invertebrates; however, these demonstrations did not use the retardation and summation tests required for an unambiguous demonstration of inhibition, allowing for alternative explanations. The implications of our results for the fields of comparative cognition and invertebrate physiological models of learning are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology*
  • Helix, Snails / physiology*
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Reaction Time / physiology