Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Stress makes snails forgetful

Date:
November 6, 2013
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
New research on pond snails has revealed that high levels of stress can block memory processes. Researchers trained snails and found that when they were exposed to multiple stressful events they were unable remember what they had learned.

A snail study reveals that stress is bad for memory. New research on pond snails has revealed that high levels of stress can block memory processes.
Credit: Sarah Dalesman, University of Exeter

New research on pond snails has revealed that high levels of stress can block memory processes. Researchers from the University of Exeter and the University of Calgary trained snails and found that when they were exposed to multiple stressful events they were unable remember what they had learned.

Previous research has shown that stress also affects human ability to remember. This study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found that experiencing multiple stressful events simultaneously has a cumulative detrimental effect on memory.

Dr Sarah Dalesman, a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow, from the University of Exeter, formally at the University of Calgary, said: "It's really important to study how different forms of stress interact as this is what animals, including people, frequently experience in real life. By training snails, and then observing their behaviour and brain activity following exposure to stressful situations, we found that a single stressful event resulted in some impairment of memory but multiple stressful events prevented any memories from being formed."

The pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis, has easily observable behaviours linked to memory and large neurons in the brain, both useful benefits when studying memory processes. They also respond to stressful events in a similar way to mammals, making them a useful model species to study learning and memory.

In the study, the pond snails were trained to reduce how often they breathed outside water. Usually pond snails breathe underwater and absorb oxygen through their skin. In water with low oxygen levels the snails emerge and inhale air using a basic lung opened to the air via a breathing hole.

To train the snails not to breathe air they were placed in poorly oxygenated water and their breathing holes were gently poked every time they emerged to breathe. Snail memory was tested by observing how many times the snails attempted to breathe air after they had received their training. Memory was considered to be present if there was a reduction in the number of times they opened their breathing holes. The researchers also assessed memory by monitoring neural activity in the brain.

Immediately before training, the snails were exposed to two different stressful experiences, low calcium -- which is stressful as calcium is necessary for healthy shells -- and overcrowding by other pond snails.

When faced with the stressors individually, the pond snails had reduced ability to form long term memory, but were still able to learn and form short and intermediate term memory lasting from a few minutes to hours. However, when both stressors were experienced at the same time, results showed that they had additive effects on the snails' ability to form memory and all learning and memory processes were blocked.

Future work will focus on the effects of stress on different populations of pond snail.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sarah Dalesman, Hiroshi Sunada, Morgan Lee Teskey, Ken Lukowiak. Combining Stressors That Individually Impede Long-Term Memory Blocks All Memory Processes. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (11): e79561 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079561

Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Stress makes snails forgetful." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131106202239.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2013, November 6). Stress makes snails forgetful. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131106202239.htm
University of Exeter. "Stress makes snails forgetful." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131106202239.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins