The flavonol epicatechin reverses the suppressive effects of a stressor on long-term memory formation

J Exp Biol. 2014 Nov 15;217(Pt 22):4004-9. doi: 10.1242/jeb.110726. Epub 2014 Sep 29.


Learning and subsequent memory formation are influenced by both environmental and lifestyle factors, such as stress and diet. Epicatechin, a plant flavonol found in cocoa, red wine and green tea enhances long-term memory (LTM) formation in Lymnaea. By contrast, an ecologically relevant stressor, low-calcium pond water, suppresses LTM formation. We tested the hypothesis that epicatechin overcomes the suppressive effects of the stressor on LTM formation in the continued presence of the stressor. Snails trained in low-calcium pond water exhibit learning but not LTM. Epicatechin (15 mg l(-1)) in control pond water enhances LTM formation. When epicatechin was added to the low-calcium pond water an enhanced LTM similar to that seen in control pond water was observed. Thus, a naturally occurring bioactive plant compound was able to overcome the suppressive effects of an ecologically relevant stressor on LTM formation.

Keywords: Environmental stressors; Epicatechin; Long-term memory formation; Lymnaea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Catechin / pharmacology*
  • Conditioning, Operant
  • Environment
  • Flavonols
  • Learning / physiology
  • Lymnaea / drug effects*
  • Lymnaea / physiology
  • Memory, Long-Term / physiology*
  • Ponds
  • Stress, Physiological


  • Flavonols
  • Catechin
  • Calcium