Function of insulin in snail brain in associative learning

S. Kojima, H. Sunada, K. Mita, M. Sakakibara, K. Lukowiak, E. Ito*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Insulin is well known as a hormone regulating glucose homeostasis across phyla. Although there are insulin-independent mechanisms for glucose uptake in the mammalian brain, which had contributed to a perception of the brain as an insulin-insensitive organ for decades, the finding of insulin and its receptors in the brain revolutionized the concept of insulin signaling in the brain. However, insulin’s role in brain functions, such as cognition, attention, and memory, remains unknown. Studies using invertebrates with their open blood-vascular system have the promise of promoting a better understanding of the role played by insulin in mediating/modulating cognitive functions. In this review, the relationship between insulin and its impact on long-term memory (LTM) is discussed particularly in snails. The pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis has the ability to undergo conditioned taste aversion (CTA), that is, it associatively learns and forms LTM not to respond with a feeding response to a food that normally elicits a robust feeding response. We show that molluscan insulin-related peptides are up-regulated in snails exhibiting CTA–LTM and play a key role in the causal neural basis of CTA–LTM. We also survey the relevant literature of the roles played by insulin in learning and memory in other phyla.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)969-981
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Oct 23
Externally publishedYes


  • Conditioned taste aversion
  • Insulin
  • Long-term memory
  • Lymnaea
  • Synaptic enhancement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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