• Worms regrow their decapitated heads, along with the memories inside

    I actually think that the title to this article is misleading, though the article from The Verge is interesting. It looks as though the worms do not regrow their memories but a greater propensity for learning lost skills involved with those memories. Doe this imply epigenetics?

    Some memories just won’t die — and some can even be transferred to a whole new brain. Researchers at Tufts University have determined that a small, yellow worm known as a planarian, which has long been studied for its regenerative properties, is able to grow back a lot more than just its body parts: after the worm’s small, snake-like head and neck are removed, its body will even regrow a brain that’s capable of quickly relearning its lost skills.

    The researchers tested the memory of planarians by measuring how long it took for them to reach food in a controlled setting. The small worms dislike open spaces and bright lights — but they had been trained to ignore it so that they could find their meals. Even after decapitation, worms that had gone through training were able to overcome their fears and start eating much faster than worms that hadn’t been trained. However, the memories didn’t come back immediately. Each worm still had to be reminded of its earlier knowledge, though it only took a single lesson for it to all come back.


    Why this happens is still unclear. Planarians’ brains control their behavior, but the researchers suggest that some of their memories might be stored elsewhere in their body. Alternatively, they suggest that the worms’ original brain may have modified their nervous systems, and their nervous systems may have then altered how the new brains formed during regrowth.

    The researchers’ findings appears in The Journal of Experimental Biology. They say that more work needs to be done to nail down the specifics of how planarians recover their memory, but the hope is that the worms can be used as a way to study how memory and learning work. That may sound complicated for a seemingly basic creature, but existing studies are already using them to research drug addiction and withdrawal.

    Category: NaturalismScience


    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce

    • Daydreamer1

      I never like a post to go uncommented, so:

      Worm have souls!

      OK, a little flippant perhaps, but this is exactly the standard we see used elsewhere and we all know that it would only take 30 seconds to find this being used as evidence of such – or universal consciousness or whatever.

      What intrigues me is that paranormal/supernatural evidences don’t support Christianity either. So much effort has been put into rebutting science. That’s failed so now its all philosophical rebuttal, where it is easier to appeal to mystery and still look like you made an argument. But if we accept that psychics can ring up serial killers and have a chat, or that ghosts exist and are not demons…. I guess this is why supernaturalism and the paranormal produce a liberal new age take on Christianity.

      I just thought it was worth pointing out because if the theologian wants to use this to argue that the mind and body are somehow distinct then they take a gun to their own head, even if liberalism in theology has transubstantiated said weapon into a water pistol and now even worms have souls.

      • i think a really strong argument against souls is the fact that there are millions of frozen in vitro fertilised eggs in IVF labs around the world. Where are their souls hanging out? Most fertilised eggs die in the womb. God is committing mass murder of souls on a daily basis!

        • Daydreamer1

          Indeed. Though it might help if people realised that arguments against things are only really created once there is an argument for something.
          That is just a nice little lever for consciousness raising on the silliness of the soul idea as presented by the likes of the Catholic Church, claiming as it does to know when it gets injected.