Caenorhabditis elegans: a new model system for the study of learning and memory

Behav Brain Res. 1990 Feb 12;37(1):89-92. doi: 10.1016/0166-4328(90)90074-o.


The extensive information on the neuroanatomy, development and genetics of Caenorhabditis (C.) elegans make it an ideal candidate model system for the analysis of the mechanisms underlying learning and memory. A first step in this analysis is the demonstration of the capacity of C. elegans to learn. In these experiments non-associative learning in C. elegans was investigated by observing changes in reversal reflex response amplitude to a mechanical vibratory stimulus. The results from these studies of non-associative learning show that C. elegans is capable of short-term habituation, dishabituation and sensitization, as well as long-term retention of habituation training lasting for at least 24 h. These findings set the stage for detailed developmental, genetic and physiological analyses of learning and memory.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Caenorhabditis / physiology*
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / physiology
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology