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Memory decay and susceptibility to amnesia dissociate punishment--from relief-learning

, : Memory decay and susceptibility to amnesia dissociate punishment--from relief-learning. Biology Letters 9(4): 20121171-20121171

Painful events shape future behaviour in two ways: stimuli associated with pain onset subsequently support learned avoidance (i.e. punishment-learning) because they signal future, upcoming pain. Stimuli associated with pain offset in turn signal relief and later on support learned approach (i.e. relief-learning). The relative strengths of such punishment- and relief-learning can be crucial for the adaptive organization of behaviour in the aftermath of painful events. Using Drosophila, we compare punishment- and relief-memories in terms of their temporal decay and sensitivity to retrograde amnesia. During the first 75 min following training, relief-memory is stable, whereas punishment-memory decays to half of the initial score. By 24 h after training, however, relief-memory is lost, whereas a third of punishment-memory scores still remain. In accordance with such rapid temporal decay from 75 min on, retrograde amnesia erases relief-memory but leaves a half of punishment-memory scores intact. These findings suggest differential mechanistic bases for punishment- and relief-memory, thus offering possibilities for separately interfering with either of them.


PMID: 23658002

DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2012.1171

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