Taste discrimination in conditioned taste aversion of the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis

Rio Sugai, Hatsuki Shiga, Sachiyo Azami, Takayuki Watanabe, Hisayo Sadamoto, Yutaka Fujito, Ken Lukowiak, Etsuro Ito*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Conditioned taste aversion (CTA) in the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis has been widely used as a model for gaining an understanding of the molecular and behavioral mechanisms underlying learning and memory. At the behavioral level, however, it is still unclear how taste discrimination and CTA interact. We thus examined how CTA to one taste affected the feeding response induced by another appetitive food stimulus. We first demonstrated that snails have the capacity to recognize sucrose and carrot juice as distinct appetitive stimuli. We then found that snails can become conditioned (i.e. CTA) to avoid one of the stimuli and not the other. These results show that snails can distinguish between appetitive stimuli during CTA, suggesting that taste discrimination is processed upstream of the site where memory consolidation in the snail brain occurs. Moreover, we examined second-order conditioning with two appetitive stimuli and one aversive stimulus. Snails acquired second-order conditioning and were still able to distinguish between the different stimuli. Finally, we repeatedly presented the conditional stimulus alone to the conditioned snails, but this procedure did not extinguish the long-term memory of CTA in the snails. Taken together, our data suggest that CTA causes specific, irreversible and rigid changes from appetitive stimuli to aversive ones in the conditioning procedure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)826-833
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Mar
Externally publishedYes


  • Conditioned taste aversion
  • Long-term memory
  • Lymnaea stagnalis
  • Second-order conditioning
  • Taste discrimination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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