The effect of brumation on memory retention

Wilkinson, Anna and Hloch, Anne and Mueller-Paul, Julia and Huber, Ludwig (2017) The effect of brumation on memory retention. Scientific Reports, 7 . p. 40079. ISSN 2045-2322

Full content URL: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep40079

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Abstract

Long-term torpor is an adaptive strategy that allows animals to survive harsh winter conditions. However, the impact that prolonged torpor has on cognitive function is poorly understood. Hibernation causes reduced synaptic activity and experiments with mammals reveal that this can have adverse effects on memories formed prior to hibernation. The impact of brumation, the winter dormancy that is observed in ectotherms, on memory remains unknown. The aim of this study was to examine whether an amphibian, the fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra), was able to retain learned spatial information after a period of brumation. Twelve fire salamanders were trained to make a simple spatial discrimination using a T-maze. All subjects learned the initial task. Upon reaching criterion, half of the subjects were placed into brumation for 100 days while the other half served as controls and were maintained under normal conditions. A post-brumation memory retention test revealed that animals from both conditions retained the learned response. Control tests showed that they solved the task using learned information and not olfactory cues. This finding contrasts with much of the mammalian research and suggests that the processes involved in prolonged torpor may have a fundamentally different impact on memory in mammals and amphibians.

Keywords:memory, learning, brumation, hibernation, amphibian
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C120 Behavioural Biology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:25670
Deposited On:31 Jan 2017 13:55

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