The mechanisms associated with neophobia and anhedonia remain largely unknown. Neuropsychological disorders such as depression and schizophrenia are associated with excessive fear and anhedonia, and have been linked to microRNA 137. We hypothesized that microRNAs (miRNAs) in the snail Lymnaea stagnalis are important for regulating feeding behaviour through either preventing neophobia or establishing hedonic value. To test these hypotheses, we used an injection of poly-l-lysine (PLL) to inhibit miRNA biogenesis and observed its effects on feeding behaviour. We repeated these experiments with pre-exposure to novel stimuli capable of eliciting neophobia to disentangle the processes predicted to regulate feeding behaviour. Next, we exposed snails to food stimuli of high hedonic value after PLL injection to reset their hedonic value for that food. Finally, we consolidated our results with previous research by examining the effect of PLL injection on a one-trial appetitive classical conditioning procedure (1TT) to induce long-term memory (LTM). We found that miRNAs are likely not required for preventing neophobia. Moreover, we discovered that snails experienced anhedonia in response to inhibition of miRNA biogenesis, resulting in diminished feeding behaviour for food stimuli with a previously high hedonic value. Snails showed diminished feeding behaviour for multiple food stimuli of high hedonic value post-1TT with PLL injection. This finding suggests that PLL causes anhedonia rather than an impairment of LTM formation following the 1TT procedure. This is the first evidence suggesting that inhibiting the biogenesis of miRNAs contributes to anhedonia in L. stagnalis.

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