Memory processes are modulated by the biological clock, although the mechanisms are unknown. Here, we report that in the diurnal zebrafish both learning and memory formation of an operant conditioning paradigm occur better during the day than during the night. Melatonin treatment during the day mimics the nighttime suppression of memory formation. Training in constant light improves nighttime memory formation while reducing endogenous melatonin concentrations. Treatment with melatonin receptor antagonists at night dramatically improves memory. Pinealectomy also significantly improves nighttime memory formation. We adduce that melatonin is both sufficient and necessary for poor memory formation during the night.
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