The pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis, naturally inhabits slow flowing, shallow and stagnant environments in the northern temperate zone. Consequently, it will experience wide temperature fluctuations dependent on prevailing weather conditions. We hypothesize that periods of warming act as a thermal stressor to alter memory formation. Snails were exposed to an acute 1 h period of 30°C pond water and we determined how memory formation following operant conditioning of aerial respiration was affected. In the snails used here (Dutch strain), a single 0.5 h training session (TS) results in intermediate-term (3 h) but not long-term memory (LTM). Applying the thermal stressor during training caused memory enhancement (i.e. LTM lasting 24 h). However, the breathing rate also increased in warm water, which might explain the enhanced memory. Therefore, we applied the thermal stressor (1 h at 30°C) up to 4 h before or 1 h after training. This did not alter baseline breathing rate during the period when snails would experience training. However, the thermal stressor whether experienced prior to or following the single TS, resulted in an enhanced memory that persisted up to 48h (i.e. LTM). We conclude that memory enhancement is due to the stress associated with the thermal stimulus.
- Long-term memory, Lymnaea, Memory enhancement, Thermal stressor