Scientists at the University of Brighton are close to unlocking the mysteries of the human ageing process, thanks to help from the common pond snail.
They believe the lymnaea stagnalis will also help provide treatments for diseases afflicting the elderly including dementia and Alzheimer's.
The research, led by Dr Mark Yeoman, studied brain functions associated with eating habits. The snails are given flavouring found in pear drop sweets, amyl acetate, plus their normal food, so the creatures get to associate the pear drop taste with feeding. Senile snails forget the association and Dr Yeoman is studying why.
"Find the answer and you are a step closer to discovering why human memory falters, and you are closer to finding drugs that could repair the mechanism or delay is deterioration," he said.