Sensory mediation of memory blocking stressors in the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis

Sarah Dalesman*, Vikram Karnik, Ken Lukowiak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (SciVal)


The great pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis, is commonly used as a model species to study how stress affects the ability to form long-term memory (LTM); however, we still have little information about how the snail senses stressful stimuli. The osphradium is an external sensory organ that demonstrates electrophysiological responses to a variety of external chemical stimuli. We examined the role, if any, played by the osphradium in sensing two environmental stressors, crowding and low environmental calcium, both known to block LTM in intact animals. We severed the osphradial nerve, blocking external sensory input from this organ to the central nervous system, and then exposed the snails to low environmental calcium or crowding stress to assess whether these stressors continued to block LTM formation. When exposed to low environmental calcium, snails with their osphradial nerve severed responded as if they were maintained in our standard calcium environment. That is, they did not respond to low calcium as a stressor blocking LTM; therefore, the osphradium plays a crucial role in mediating how snails respond to this stressor. However, following crowding, LTM formation was blocked in both control groups and snails that had the osphradial nerve severed, indicating that sensory information from the osphradium is not required to sense crowded conditions. Together these data show that two stressors that result in the same behavioural phenotype, blocking LTM formation, do so via two distinct sensory pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2528-2533
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2011


  • Calcium
  • Crowding
  • Long-term memory
  • Lymnaea stagnalis
  • Osphradium
  • Stress


Dive into the research topics of 'Sensory mediation of memory blocking stressors in the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this