Old Memories Can Prime Brains to Make New Ones
The tiny foragers are also “remarkable learners” that can remember something after a single exposure to it, Crossley said. In the new study, the researchers peered deep into the snails’ brains to figure out what happened at the neurological level when they were acquiring memories.
In their experiments, the researchers gave the snails two forms of training: strong and weak. During strong training, they first sprayed the snails with banana-flavored water, which the snails treated as neutral in its appeal: They would swallow some but then spit some of it out. Then the team gave the snails sugar, which they gobbled up avidly.
When they tested the snails as much as a day later, the snails showed that they had learned to associate the banana flavor with the sugar from that single experience. The snails seemed to perceive the flavor as more desirable: They were much more willing to swallow the water.
In contrast, the snails did not learn this positive association from a weak training session, in which a bath flavored with coconut was followed by a much more diluted…