A flavanoid component of chocolate quickly reverses an imposed memory deficit

J Exp Biol. 2016 Mar;219(Pt 6):816-23. doi: 10.1242/jeb.130765. Epub 2016 Jan 28.


The ability to remember is influenced by environmental and lifestyle factors, such as stress and diet. A flavanol contained in chocolate, epicatechin (Epi), has been shown to enhance long-term memory (LTM) formation in Lymnaea. Combining two stressors (low-calcium pond water and crowding) blocks learning and all forms of memory; that is, this combination of environmentally relevant stressors creates a memory-unfriendly state. We tested the hypothesis that Epi will immediately reverse the memory-unfriendly state, i.e. that snails in the memory-deficit state when trained in Epi will immediately become competent to learn and form memory. We found that Epi not only reverses the memory-deficit state but also further enhances LTM formation. Thus, a naturally occurring bioactive plant compound can overcome a memory-unfriendly state. This supports the idea that bioactive substances may mitigate memory-making deficits that, for example, occur with ageing.

Keywords: Epicatechin; Long-term memory; Lymnaea; Stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cacao / chemistry*
  • Catechin / pharmacology*
  • Conditioning, Operant
  • Crowding
  • Fresh Water / chemistry
  • Learning / drug effects
  • Lymnaea / drug effects*
  • Lymnaea / physiology
  • Memory, Long-Term / drug effects
  • Stress, Physiological


  • Catechin