When it comes to memory, humans may be more like snails than elephants and this could, someday, help researchers better understand cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

“Understanding how memories are formed and maintained is one of the major questions in modern neuroscience. This question is difficult to answer in the human brain because of is enormous complexity,” said Dr. Riccardo Mozzachiodi, Associate Professor at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. “Therefore, studying memory in simple animals, like snails, is crucial in providing insights about learning and memory in humans”.

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Caregiver Month. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over five million American’s are living with the disease and another 15 million are caregivers. Alzheimer’s attacks the brain and causes memory loss, leaving victims with the inability to successfully complete everyday tasks. With Mozzachiodi’s research findings on the basic mechanisms of memory, we are a small step closer to understanding how this disease causes memory loss.

Mozzachiodi has spent more than 15 years studying memory in snails and wrote a chapter for a book entitled “Invertebrate Learning and Memory.” The book, published by Academic Press, was released on Amazon in early August. In his chapter “Comparison of Operant and Classical Conditioning of Feeding Behavior in Aplysia”, Mozzachiodi reviews the work conducted by him and colleagues on the mechanisms of elementary forms of learning in the marine snails Aplysia.

During his lab research, large marine snails are tested with injections to check their short-term memory. Mozzachiodi says this type of testing helps scientists better understand illnesses and the overall physiology of the human body and mind.

Mozzachiodi was chosen by the editors of the book to write this chapter because of his two decades of research in this area. He hopes his research will continue to put mankind on the map to understanding and curing diseases of the brain.

Mozzachiodi joined the Texas A&M- Corpus Christi faculty in August 2007 as an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Pisa in Pisa, Italy, and was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston.