A number of species in the animal kingdom are related to humans in many ways, which is why rodents and apes are increasingly used for related analyses. Now experts from the University of Texas have unraveled a species of sea snails called Aplysia californica, which provide new insights on disorders related to learning and memory.
In this trial, 2 sets of snails were exposed to 5 learning sessions. While one group was given learning sessions at irregular time frames, as indicated by a mathematical equation, the other group received training sessions at regular intervals of 20 minutes.
A span of 5 days after the sessions, a substantial rise in memory seemed identifiable in the group trained going by the mathematical model. However, no elevation in memory appeared to be found in the group trained at regular intervals.
“When you give a training session, you are starting several different chemical reactions. If you give another session, you get additional effects. The idea is to get the sessions in sync. We have developed a way to adjust the training sessions so they are tuned to the dynamics of the biochemical processes,” commented John H. “Jack” Byrne, Ph.D., senior author and chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the UTHealth Medical School.
Around 10,000 different permutations and combinations were sorted by the computer to locate the schedule that is likely to play a role in improving memory. The team examined the nerve cells in the brain of snails and found that those receiving enhanced training sessions appeared to function better.
The mechanism involved gauging the apt time for learning in the brain, which consecutively scheduled the learning process at such prime periods. This procedure presumably led to considerable increase in memory.
The investigators concluded that computational methods to aid in designing training schedules for improving memory could be useful. The research is published in the journal, Nature Neuroscience.