Slime Memory

Physarum polycephalum is a type of slime mold that has no brain or neurons, but is capable of making decisions, escaping traps, and breaking out of Petri dishes. When swarming together and merging, they form a single giant cell referred to as a plasmodium – which can tear itself into separate pieces and fuse back together again.

And you know what? That’s not even the most mind-blowing part of the article. There’s this:

To reach some food, they had to crawl over a bridge that was laced with repellents like salt or coffee. At first, the molds were clearly repulsed, and were slow to ooze across. With more repetitions, they became habituated; they got used to the chemicals, started ignoring them, and moved faster.

The term “habituation” is something I learned from the article. And apparently, if newer molds are added to the habituated mold… the knowledge is somehow passed along. Which is just crazy to think about, when you remember that there are no brains involved in this at all.

A Brainless Slime TheThat Shares Memories by Fusing is a short read, but utterly fascinating. The video examples, while also very short, are amazing as well.

I do wonder how much we know about how memory works. Based on the behaviors listed in this article – it’s making me reconsider what I think my definitions are for decision-making, memory, and even consciousness itself.

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