Heat shock disrupts expression of excitatory and extinction memories in planaria: Interaction with amount of exposure



• We trained Planaria in CPP and gave Heat Shock (HS) following memory reactivation.
• We varied the amount of exposure (4, 10, 16) sessions before reactivation plus HS.
• HS produced amnesia of CPP excitation after 4 sessions, and of extinction after 16.
• HS after 10 sessions (i.e., intermediate exposure) had no effect.
• The pattern replicates in planaria (an invertebrate) findings in rodents and humans.



In planarians, as seen in rodents, natural reinforcers (sucrose) and drugs of abuse support Conditioned Place Preference (CPP), which is a form of Pavlovian learning to examine the rewarding effects of natural reinforcers and drugs of abuse. Using this preparation, we have previously observed acquisition, extinction and reinstatement of sucrose CPP. In the present experiments, we used planaria to investigate the amnestic effects of Heat Shock (HS, a known stressor in planaria) following different amounts of CPP extinction sessions. Experiment 1 showed that planarians developed a CPP response to a sucrose-paired surface. Heat shock, when given in conjunction with exposure to the sucrose-paired surface, produced amnesia as assessed by a subsequent sucrose reinstatement test. We interpreted that the amnesic effect of HS was due to HS affecting the dominant excitatory memory at the time of HS exposure. Thus, we hypothesized that after extensive extinction training (10 exposures), HS would lead to recovery from extinction (when the new inhibitory memory is dominant at the time of HS exposure). Experiment 2 explored this possibility and showed that given HS following 10 extinction sessions had no amnestic effect on the excitatory CPP response. In Experiment 3, we hypothesized that 16 extinction sessions would produce a stronger (and hence dominant) extinction inhibitory trace, which then would be vulnerable to HS. We observed that HS impaired the expression of the extinction memory following 16 exposures. These results reveal different effects of HS on CPP memories depending on the amount of extinction, and are fully consistent with the literature using rodents and humans. In addition, they suggest that planaria is a promising pre-clinical model to assess fundamental memory processes.


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