Biology

Study suggests cuttlefish don't experience age-related memory loss

Study suggests cuttlefish don'...
The study was conducted on 24 common cuttlefish, aka Sepia officinalis
The study was conducted on 24 common cuttlefish, aka Sepia officinalis
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Dr. Alexandra Schnell observes a cuttlefish in the Marine Biological Laboratory's Marine Resources Center
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Dr. Alexandra Schnell observes a cuttlefish in the Marine Biological Laboratory's Marine Resources Center
The study was conducted on 24 common cuttlefish, aka Sepia officinalis
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The study was conducted on 24 common cuttlefish, aka Sepia officinalis

Animals, like us, experience a deterioration of memory in old age. A new study, however, indicates that cuttlefish are the first species in which this appears not to be the case.

Building on previous research, the study was conducted by scientists from the University of Cambridge, Massachusetts' Marine Biological Laboratory, and France's University of Caen. It was conducted on 24 Sepia officinalis cuttlefish, half of which were "not-quite adult" (10 to 12 months old) and half of which were in old age (22 to 24 months old). Cuttlefish typically only live for about two years.

All of the animals were initially trained to approach a black and white flag inside their tank, when that flag was being waved. They were subsequently presented with two such flags, placed in two different locations. When they approached one of those waving flags, they were given a piece of king prawn meat. When they approached the other, they were given a live grass shrimp – a food that they very much preferred. The second flag, however, was only waved once every three hours.

After four weeks, it was found that all 24 cuttlefish became adept at establishing which flag provided which food, and was thus the better one to subsequently approach. What's more, the locations of the two flags were regularly changed, so the animals had to constantly relearn (and thus re-memorize) which was which.

Dr. Alexandra Schnell observes a cuttlefish in the Marine Biological Laboratory's Marine Resources Center
Dr. Alexandra Schnell observes a cuttlefish in the Marine Biological Laboratory's Marine Resources Center

The memory of specific events – such as prawn meat or live shrimp coming from a certain flag – is known as "episodic memory." In humans and most other creatures, it is believed to decrease as a part of the brain known as the hippocampus deteriorates. Cuttlefish don't have a hippocampus, so memory tasks are instead assigned to the "vertical lobe" of their brain. That lobe doesn't deteriorate until the last two or three days of their lives.

"The old cuttlefish were just as good as the younger ones in the memory task – in fact, many of the older ones did better in the test phase," says U Cambridge's Dr. Alexandra Schnell, first author of a paper on the study. "We think this ability might help cuttlefish in the wild to remember who they mated with, so they don’t go back to the same partner."

The paper was recently published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Source: University of Cambridge

5 comments
5 comments
LeZSeZ
We all know Cuttlefish do not experience age-related memory loss since they do not eat The Western Diet.
Obviously. But you mean age-correlated.
Everyone is suffering age-correlated everything on account of bad Western diets.
You must remember this . . .
wolf0579
It's because they are aliens, here on Earth, studying us.
enrique
Como sabe cualquier neurólogo, la alimentación del cerebro -si bien vinculada a la ingesta- es de naturaleza diferente a lo que ingerimos por la boca. La dieta occidental es muy variable y va desde un ascetismo a un consumo desmedido, desde el vegetaveganismo y comida orgánica a la ingesta de acuerdo a la naturaleza humana que omnívora hasta la comida chatarra, tenes de todo. No existe una "dieta occidental ni oriental ni nada" en realidad Y que no mencionar a las comidas sin tac ni gluten, a la variedad carnavalesca de dietas unas peores que otras y casi todas malas o inadecuadas. Pero los ancianos con dietas orientales también tienen pérdida de memoria. Es que la realidad es más prosaica que los fakes de internet, que los malos divulgadores científicos, las ondas dietarias, que las modas con tufillo ideológico y sin olvidar los conspiranoicos y antitransgénicos.
Signguy
Uhhhh.... remember what...?
DJ's Feed Me
Signguy AUGUST 19, 2021 05:19 PM,
"Uhhhh.... remember what...?"
That's what Mrs. Cuttlefish said.