Reversible and Irreversible Stages in the Development of Amnesia after Disruption of the Reactivation of Associative Memory in Snails
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Our previous studies on common snails have demonstrated that inhibition of NMDA glutamate receptors during reactivation of a skill consisting of refusal of a defined foodstuff leads to impairment of long-term memory. We report here our studies of the dynamics of the development of amnesia. Snails were trained to refuse a defined foodstuff and were injected 24 h later with the NMDA glutamate receptor antagonist MK-801, and were then presented with the conditioned food stimulus (a reminder). Testing on days 1 and 3 after exposure to MK-801 and the reminder showed gradual decreases in the number of refusals of the conditioned food stimulus. Repeat training of the animals to refuse the same foodstuff performed during these periods led to restoration of the skill seen after the initial training. The number of refusals by snails of the conditioned food stimulus 10 days after MK-801 and the reminder decreased to a minimal level. Repeat training at this time did not lead to the formation of a conditioned reflex to food. Thus, we have provided the first demonstration that impairment of the reactivation of long-term memory induces two stages in the development of amnesia. The first, reversible, stage, which lasted less than 10 days, was characterized by the potential for long-term memory to be restored by repeat training of the snails. The second, irreversible, stage developed 10 days after induction of amnesia and was characterized by disruption of the ability of long-term memory to be restored. These results may have practical value in terms of understanding the mechanisms of acute memory loss due to trauma and neurological diseases.
Key wordslearning long-term memory reconsolidation amnesia NMDA glutamate receptors acute memory loss common snail
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