Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

How the Worm Changes Its Tastes

Sci. Signal.  22 Jul 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 335, pp. ec196
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005707

In associative learning, you link potentially unrelated things because you are exposed to them at the same time. Ohno et al. studied a simple associative learning task in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. They presented the worms with a taste substance while withholding food. After starving in the presence of the taste substance, the animals switched their behavior from being attracted to the taste to finding it aversive. A specific isoform of the insulin receptor is critical for this type of associative learning—at least in worms.

H. Ohno, S. Kato, Y. Naito, H. Kunitomo, M. Tomioka, Y. Iino, Role of synaptic phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase in a behavioral learning response in C. elegans. Science 345, 313–317 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]