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Behavioral and neuronal attributes of short- and long-term habituation in the crab Chasmagnathus

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Julieta Sztarker


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Investigations using invertebrate species have led to a considerable progress in our understanding of the mechanisms underlying learning and memory. In this review we describe the main behavioral and neuronal findings obtained by studying the habituation of the escape response to a visual danger stimulus in the crab Chasmagnathus granulatus. Massed training with brief intertrial intervals lead to a rapid reduction of the escape response that recovers after a short term. Conversely, few trials of spaced training renders a slower escape reduction that endures for many days. As predicted by Wagner’s associative theory of habituation, long-term habituation in the crab proved to be determined by an association between the contextual environment of the training and the unconditioned stimulus. By performing intracellular recordings in the brain of the intact animal at the same time it was learning, we identified a group of neurons that remarkably reflects the short- and long-term behavioral changes. Thus, the visual memory abilities of crabs, their relatively simple and accessible nervous system, and the recording stability that can be achieved with their neurons provide an opportunity for uncovering neurophysiological and molecular events that occur in identifiable neurons during learning.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tomsic D, de Astrada MB, Sztarker J, Maldonado H

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Neurobiology of Learning and Memory

Year: 2009

Volume: 92

Issue: 2

Pages: 176-182

ISSN (print): 1074-7427

ISSN (electronic): 1095-9564


DOI: 10.1016/j.nlm.2009.01.004

Notes: Special Issue: Neurobiology of Habituation


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