• acetate;
  • bead discrimination learning;
  • passive avoidance learning;
  • glutamine;
  • glycogen;
  • memory;
  • pyruvate carboxylation


Glycolysis and glycogenolysis are involved in memory processing in day-old chickens and, aside from the provision of energy for neuronal and astrocytic energy metabolism these pathways enable astrocytes to supply neurones with precursor for transmitter glutamate by glucose-based de novo synthesis. We have previously shown that memory processing for bead discrimination learning is dependent on glycolysis; however, the metabolic inhibitor used, iodoacetate, inhibits pyruvate formation from both glucose and glycogen. At specific time points after training transient reductions in brain glycogen content occur, mirrored by increases in glutamate/glutamine content. In the present study, we used intracerebral injection of a glycogen phosphorylase inhibitor, 1,4-dideoxy-1,4-imino-D-arabinitol (DAB), which does not affect glucose breakdown, to evaluate the role of glycogen metabolism in memory consolidation. Dose-dependent inhibition of learning occurred when DAB was administered at specific time periods in relation to training: (i) 5 min before training, (ii) around 30 min posttraining, and (iii) 55 min posttraining. After injection at either of the two earlier periods, memory disappeared after consolidation 30 min postlearning, and after injection 55 min after learning memory was absent at 70 min. The memory loss caused by early administration could be prevented after training by central injection of the glutamate precursor glutamine or the astrocyte-specific substrate acetate together with aspartate, substituting for pyruvate carboxylation. Thus, glycogenolysis is essential for learning in this paradigm and, aside from energy supply considerations, we suggest that an important role for glycogenolysis is to provide neurones with glutamine as the precursor for neuronal glutamate and GABA. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.