Learning: Classical and Avoidance Conditioning in the Mollusk Pleurobranchaea

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Science  20 Apr 1973:
Vol. 180, Issue 4083, pp. 317-320
DOI: 10.1126/science.180.4083.317


Naive specimens of the marine gastropod Pleurobranchaea withdraw from tactile stimulation of the oral veil and show feeding responses to food chemicals. Experimental subjects, trained by pairing touch (conditioned stimullus) with food chemicals (unconditioned stimulus), soon acquired a classically conditioned feeding response to touch alone. Control subjects that received touch alone or unpaired touch and food chemicals showed significantly fewer feeding responses to touch than did experimentals. Classically conditioned specimens were used for avoidance conditioning. Subjects that received aversive electrical stimulation when they did not withdraw from touch rapidly learned to withdraw rather than to feed in response to touch alone. Controls that received touch alone or unpaired touch and shock continued to exhibit the feeding response to touch alone. The learned responses persisted for up to 2 weeks without reinforcement before extinction, and could be demonstrated in the isolated nervous system.