A single time-window for protein synthesis-dependent long-term memory formation after one-trial appetitive conditioning


Professor Paul Benjamin, as above.
E-mail: p.r.benjamin@sussex.ac.uk


Protein synthesis is generally held to be essential for long-term memory formation. Often two periods of sensitivity to blockade of protein synthesis have been described, one immediately after training and another several hours later. We wished to relate the timing of protein synthesis-dependence of behavioural long-term memory (LTM) formation to an electrophysiological correlate of the LTM memory trace. We used the snail Lymnaea because one-trial appetitive conditioning of feeding using a chemical conditioned stimulus leads to a stable LTM trace that can be monitored behaviourally and then electrophysiologically in preparations made from the same animals. Anisomycin (an inhibitor of translation) injected 10 min after training blocked behavioural LTM formation. Actinomycin D (an inhibitor of transcription) was also effective at 10 min. When anisomycin, at doses shown to be effective in blocking central nervous system protein synthesis, was injected at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 h after training there was no effect on recall. These results indicate that there is a single period of sensitivity to protein synthesis inhibition in Lymnaea lasting for between 10 min and 1 h after training with no evidence for a second window of sensitivity. An electrophysiological correlate of LTM was found to be sensitive to anisomycin injected 10 min after training. It is unusual to find only one period of protein synthesis-dependence in detailed time-course studies of LTM, and this suggests that the consolidation processes involving protein synthesis are relatively rapid in one-trial appetitive conditioning and complete within 1 h of training.