Can Memories Be Stored Anywhere besides the Brain?

Many worm species have the remarkable ability to regenerate organs and other body parts -- even their brains. In 2013, while conducting research to find out more about how animals store and process information, biologists at Tufts University used planarian flatworms to study where memories are stored. After using light to teach the worms where they could find food, the scientists cut off creatures' heads. As expected, the worms completely regrew their heads in just two weeks. Amazingly, the researchers found that those worms still remembered how to find the food. In fact, the worms with new heads had memories as accurate as the control group of worms, which hadn’t been beheaded.

Heads up:

  • The researchers admitted that they don't yet understand how these results could be possible, but they think that the worms' memories must have been stored in other body cells and imprinted onto the new brain as it regenerated.

  • In the past, researchers have concentrated on brain studies to investigate how memories are maintained. Tufts biologist Michael Levin said that these results may point researchers in a whole new direction.

  • The answer may come from epigenetic research, which studies how external or environmental factors can switch genes on and off, effectively altering the transcriptional potential of a cell.

Follow wiseGEEK:

More Info: National Geographic

Discuss this Article

Post 2

Apparently they never did any research before publishing their research. Too bad for university researchers and the journal that published their paper.

Post 1

Not sure why scientists would be so astonished that planaria whose brain and/or memory aren't entirely invested in the 'cranium'; octopuses have famously demonstrated that many of their cognitive functions are replicated throughout their bodies and tentacles.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?



Free Widgets for your Site/Blog

Most people who believe they've had an encounter with a higher power report lasting psychological benefits.  more...
December 15 ,  1791 :  The US Bill of Rights was ratified.  more...