We studied whether posttraining epinephrine accelerates the process of acquisition, and whether this effect leads to an enduring high level of performance on a long-term memory test (20 days). Rats were submitted to daily massed (30 trials) two-way active avoidance conditioning sessions followed by systemic epinephrine (0.01 mg/kg) or vehicle, until achieving a learning criterion (80% avoidances in one single session, maximum 14 sessions). By the sixth session, 78% of the animals with posttraining epinephrine attained the learning criterion compared to only the 23% of the rats in the vehicle group. Considering the whole acquisition phase, all the epinephrine treated animals, but only 66.67% in the vehicle group, reached the criterion. On the retention test, both groups maintained the level of performance reached at the end of the acquisition phase. We conclude that epinephrine accelerates the process of acquisition by enhancing memory consolidation, and that this effect might be especially useful in high demanding learning tasks, or for animals with low learning capacities. © 2006.
- Memory modulation
- Two-way active avoidance