Aplysia californica: A Classroom Model of Conditioning

Rachel Hennegan ‘22 | Major: Biological Sciences
Kylee Schanbacher ‘20 | Major: Biological Sciences

Mentor: Kimberly Hale, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Sciences

Abstract: The purpose of this work was to develop materials that introduce teachers and students to a model organism, Aplysia californica, which is used by scientists world-wide to study multiple aspects of learning and memory. This was accomplished utilizing work done in our research group over the past 3 years. We will explain the minimally invasive, affordable model of classical conditioning we have developed and demonstrate how it can be utilized in high school and undergraduate biology and psychology classes. It is our belief that students will benefit from the use of this model in two ways:

  1. It will help them become more engaged in the subject matter and 
  2. It will give them some hands-on experience with a widely used model organism. In the near future, a publication of our protocol will be made available to the public, demonstrating our final model to be used by high school and undergraduate students.