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Assessment of Study Learning and Memory in Invertebrates

Assessment of Study Learning and Memory in Invertebrates

Application of Invertebrates in Scientific Research

Invertebrates, in contrast to the cartilaginous or bony vertebrates, are a large group of animals that lacks a vertebral column or backbone. They are the primitive form of animals, accounting for about 97% of the total number of animal species. The biological study of invertebrates arose in the 18th century and became a model for research by the end of the 19th century. Currently, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and the minuscule nematode Caenorhabditis elegans are the most used model invertebrates in the field of research, drug development, toxicity/efficacy testing, human disease modeling, and education.

The total mapping and sequencing of Drosophila chromosomes, coupled with developmental and behavioral similarities, enables it to be a useful tool for a series of biological and biomedical research, especially as a convenient and sensitive model for the investigation of human genetics and disorders. Specifically, more than 500 genes in Drosophila are sequentially matched to human disease sequences, including mutant alleles, human malignancies, and human nervous system diseases. Nematodes Caenorhabditis elegans has been widely used in biological research due to their strong reproductive ability, short generation time, and low cost. Caenorhabditis elegans is an instrumental model for exploring the molecular mechanism of human physiologies and diseases, especially in the investigations of aging, sleep, Alzheimer's disease.

Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans. Fig.1 Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans.

Invertebrates for Learning and Memory Research

Invertebrates have been widely and successfully employed for experimental research of human neuroscience, including neuroethology, basic synaptic transmission, and disease animal modeling. As a model organism for neuroscience research, these invertebrates exhibit multiple advantages:

  • easy accessibility and less complex neuronal networks.
  • large neuronal cell diameter facilitates microelectrode observation and recording.
  • less complex genome for easy gene manipulation.

Based on published data, a variety of invertebrates have been applied for different neurological learning and memory studies, covering octopuses, Aplysia, insect honeybees, ants, etc., among which fruit flies and nematodes are the most used ones.

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  • Aplysia simplified cell model for learning and memory research

Aplysia californica, also known as California sea hare, is a useful invertebrate for the studies of learning and memory due to its simple nervous system (consisting of 10,000 neurons). Three learning forms, habituation, sensitization, and classical conditioning have been demonstrated in Aplysia. Aplysia model could be used for exploration of the molecular mechanisms of implicit memory.

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  • Drosophila genetic system for learning and memory research

Drosophila is an important and widely used model organism in neuroscience owed to its relatively simple genetics with only four pairs of chromosomes, short developmental time, and relevance to human physiology. It is a valuable genetic model for several human neurodegenerative disorders, as well as for the study of complex behaviors, especially learning and memory.

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  • Honeybee as a model for learning and memory research

Honeybees (Apis mellifera) have relatively complex behaviors and higher-order cognition, even though its brain is less than 1 cubic millimeter in diameter and contains only about 1 million neurons. The navigation and foraging patterns of bees can be used to simulate and study learning, memory, and sensory processing.

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  • Other invertebrates for learning and memory research

In addition to these organisms, there are other invertebrates commonly used for learning and memory research. Ants have been used to explore the relationship between long-term memory and visual stimulation; Caenorhabditis elegans has been used for the study of long/short term memory and molecular mechanisms of behavior; marine Hermissenda crassicornis has been employed for short-term memory formation research.

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For Research Use Only. Not For Clinical Use.
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