Why doesn’t age damage the memory of cuttlefish?

A recent study has revealed that age does not damage the memory of cuttlefish. Like all living things, these mollusks go through an aging process throughout their life cycle. But, unlike what happens with the vast majority of animals, their recall capacity does not seem to be affected by the progressive degeneration of their body.

Why does memory deteriorate over time?

In many animals with more complex nervous systems, even in humans, there is a reduction in the ability to retain specific memories during the aging process. And this occurs due to progressive deterioration of brain structures responsible for storing and processing information.

However, this logic would not apply to cuttlefish, whose memory associated with episodes is not altered until their last days of life. At least that is what an interesting research published in the magazine shows Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

How do you discover that age does not damage the memory of cuttlefish?

This discovery is fruit of the collaboration of American, French and British institutions. Its researchers have trained cuttlefish of different ages to perform some tests, in order to assess their cognitive abilities. The basis of the experiment was to make the mollusks assimilate the place and time when they were offered their favorite food. And for this, they had to vary not only the type of prey that was offered, but also where and when each prey was offered.

In this way, it was possible to evaluate if the cuttlefish could identify the exact moment in which they should go to a specific place to receive their “reward”. What’s more, young, adult and elderly specimens were selected for this, to verify whether the ability to recall specific events was affected by old age.

And why doesn’t age affect the memory of cuttlefish?

The results have shown that cuttlefish with quite advanced age (the equivalent of about 80 or 90 human years), could perfectly remember the place and the time when they were offered their favorite food. And more: memory efficiency did not vary between young and old individuals.

On the one hand, this reinforces that they have a great ability to assimilate and remember what they eat, where and when they eat it. Information that is useful for your future eating decisions, to recognize where and when food is most available.

But the data also show that age does not damage the memory of cuttlefish, at least not the so-called “episodic memory”. And this could be because do not have a hippocampus, unlike the other animals studied that do experience progressive memory impairment. In cephalopods, it is the vertical lobe that is responsible for these cognitive processes related to the recall of specific events, such as where and when they ate a certain food. And this brain structure remains intact until a few days before they die.

Memory and mating in cuttlefish

However, the most striking fact is that the conservation of episodic memory in cuttlefish could also be associated with mating. This is because these species only mate when they reach more advanced ages. With all this, they are pressured to take advantage of every opportunity to mate during their last days of life. And certainly remembering with whom, where and when they have managed to do this “task”, it is useful to maximize your future chances of success.


Source: okdiario.com by okdiario.com.

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