• Behavioural and neural correlates of operant conditioning in Lymnaea stagnalis : role of previous experience during development /

      Khan, Abdullah Mohammad.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2006-06-04)
      The freshwater mollusc Lymnaea stagnalis was utilized in this study to further the understanding of how network properties change as a result of associative learning, and to determine whether or not this plasticity is dependent on previous experience during development. The respiratory and neural correlates of operant conditioning were first determined in normally reared Lymnaea. The same procedure was then applied to differentially reared Lymnaea, that is, animals that had never experienced aerial respiration during their development. The aim was to determine whether these animals would demonstrate the same responses to the training paradigm. In normally reared animals, a behavioural reduction in aerial respiration was accompanied by numerous changes within the neural network. Specifically, I provide evidence of changes at the level of the respiratory central pattern generator and the motor output. In the differentially reared animals, there was little behavioural data to suggest learning and memory. There were, however, significant differences in the network parameters, similar to those observed in normally reared animals. This demonstrated an effect of operant conditioning on differentially reared animals. In this thesis, I have identified additional correlates of operant conditioning in normally reared animals and provide evidence of associative learning in differentially reared animals. I conclude plasticity is not dependent on previous experience, but is rather ontogenetically programmed within the neural network.