Differences in neuronal activity explain differences in memory forming abilities of different populations of Lymnaea stagnalis

Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2012 Jan;97(1):173-82. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2011.11.005. Epub 2011 Nov 30.


The ability to learn and form long-term memory (LTM) can enhance an animal's fitness, for example, by allowing them to remember predators, food sources or conspecific interactions. Here we use the pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis, to assess whether variability between natural populations (i.e., strains) in memory forming capabilities correlates with electrophysiological properties at the level of a single neuron, RPeD1. RPeD1 is a necessary site of LTM formation of aerial respiratory behaviour following operant conditioning. We used strains from two small, separate permanent ponds (TC1 and TC2). A comparison of the two populations showed that the TC1 strain had enhanced memory forming capabilities. Further, the behavioural phenotype of enhanced memory strain was explained, in part, by differences in the electrophysiology of RPeD1. Compared to RPeD1 from the naive TC2 strain, RPeD1 from the TC1 strain has both a decreased resistance and decreased excitability. Moreover, 24h after a single 0.5h training session, those membrane properties, as well as the firing and bursting rate, decrease further in the TC1 strain but not in the TC2 strain. The initial differences in RPeD1 properties in the TC1 strain coupled with their ability to further change these properties with a single training session suggests that RPeD1 neurons from the TC1 strain are "primed" to rapidly form memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Lymnaea / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Species Specificity