Identification of stimuli and input pathways mediating food-attraction conditioning in the snail, Helix
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Snails become conditioned by a single feeding episode to locate foods which they were unable to locate prior to feeding. To identify which of the different stimulus parameters of the food mediate learning, snails were presented with isolated stimulus components during feeding and re-tested the next day for their ability to locate the food. None of the individual components was sufficient to promote conditioning. Odor combined with a bulk stimulus conditioned the animals, as indicated by their subsequently locating the food. Elimination of the olfactory sensory inputs from the anterior and/or posterior tentacles prior to conditioning revealed that the acquisition of the olfactory memory requires olfactory stimulation of the sensory epithelia on the anterior tentacles. Recall of memory during olfactory orientation requires functional epithelia on the posterior tentacles, which suggests that the same odor is processed by different input pathways under different situations. Animals with the olfactory epithelia functional on the same side during conditioning and food searching were able to locate the conditioned food. Animals with different epithelia functional during conditioning and food searching failed, which suggests that olfactory memory is stored within one side of the nervous system and cannot be accessed from the contralateral side.
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