The role of nitric oxide in memory is modulated by diurnal time

Stephanie L. Gage, Alan Nighorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Nitric oxide (NO) is thought to play an important neuromodulatory role in the olfactory system. This modulation has been suggested to be particularly important for olfactory learning and memory in the antennal lobe (the primary olfactory network in invertebrates). We are using the hawkmoth, Manduca sexta, to further investigate the role of NO in olfactory memory. Recent findings suggest that NO affects short-term memory traces and that NO concentration fluctuates with the light cycle. This gives rise to the hypothesis that NO may be involved in the connection between memory and circadian rhythms. In this study, we explore the role of diurnal time and NO in memory by altering the time of day when associative-olfactory conditioning is performed. We find a strong effect of NO on short-term memory, and two surprising effects of diurnal time. We find that (1) at certain time points, NO affects longer traces of memory in addition to short-term memory; and (2) when conditioning is performed close to the light cycle switches-both from light to dark and dark to light-NO does not significantly affect memory at all. These findings suggest an intriguing functional role for NO in olfactory conditioning that is modulated as a function of diurnal time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number59
JournalFrontiers in Systems Neuroscience
Issue number1 APR
StatePublished - Apr 11 2014


  • Antennal lobe
  • Classical conditioning
  • Moth
  • Olfaction
  • Proboscis extension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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