Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Training at Irregular Intervals Improves Learning in Sea Snails

Sea snails learn more effectively on an oddly timed series of training sessions rather than regularly spaced lessons, a new study finds. If the results extend to humans, they might suggest ways of improving students’ study habits...When the rat-sized Aplysia californica receives an unpleasant shock, it retracts its gill and an appendage called a siphon. After numerous shocks, it will become sensitized, learning to retract the siphon and keep it in for a while. Scientists normally expose sea snails to the signal at regular intervals over several hours to sensitize the animals. But Jack Byrne of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and colleagues wondered whether there was a better way. “There’s no real logic for why people use one protocol over another, other than it works,” he says. more

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