EDITED 5.5.09 to add: If you are looking for info about roaches IN your coffee, you want this post.
This story is interesting for a lot of reasons. First, it involved undergraduates in the research–yay! The university also coupled a multimedia news release with the paper’s publication, so you can look at photos of the beasties (the roaches, as well as the researchers).
Lastly, I think we all can identify with the results: Cockroaches are not at their best in the morning.
“Dramatic daily variations in the cockroach’s learning ability were discovered by a new study…published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “This is the first example of an insect whose ability to learn is controlled by its biological clock….
The discovery that the cockroach’s memory is so strongly modulated by its circadian clock, opens up new opportunities to learn more about the molecular basis of the interaction between biological clocks and memory and learning in general. Much of the new information about the molecular basis of memory and learning has come from the study of other invertebrates (animals without backbones) such as the sea slug (Apylsia) and the fruit fly (Drosophila).”