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Brainless Slime Can Share Memories By Bonding!

Dec 25, 2016 11:07 AM EST

French scientists made a massive breakthrough in the realm of neuroscience when they found evidence that a brainless slime called the Physarum polycephalum can learn how to avoid unpleasant stimuli after repeated trials.

Their study, which was published last April 2016, had a follow-up just this month that the "informed" slime may transfer their knowledge to other "naive" slime by fusing with it.

However, this is just one of the very weird things the P. polycephalum is capable of.

According to Science Alert, the slime looks nothing more than an ordinary, oozing patch of yellow. It's actually a colony of single-celled organisms that is more closely related to amoeba than actual fungal moulds - and these microscopic protozoan cells come together to form a larger entity.

Now this slime is more commonly called the many-headed slime.Most of the time they're in wooded areas where they feed on fungi, bacteria and rotting mater. However it can move quickly for its size, travelling up to 1.5-inches per hour.

According to Science Alert, although we may not pay that much attention to the slime if we take a trip to the woods, researchers want to study them as they may hold the key to understand how intelligence evolved millions of years ago.

This led to the discovery of the Toulouse University researchers that the slime can remember how to avoid unpleasant stimuli after experiencing it multiple times.

The team even concocted a little obstacle course for the slime, which had patches of unpleasant things such as caffeine. The slime disliked the caffeine-laced areas on the bridged and tried to avoid them.

However, the slime got better at navigating the "safe" areas of the bridge a few days later - implying that it learned from past expeditions.

Now the team is suggesting they can share the same knowledge to others.They took a "naive" slime sample which never learned how to avoid the bridge and an uninformed sample that learned the course and fused them together. They used salt as an obstacle instead of caffeine.

The team found out that even if they took three naive samples and fused them with the habituated ones, they can navigate the bridge as if they knew exactly where the obstacles were. It did take a bit of time for the knowledge to work its way to the naive parts of the team.

This hints that the naive samples were quickly assimilated with the habituated sample and the knowledge that there is salt on the bridge were passed on.

While the entire scientific community is still not sure how this works, others think this may all be a matter of biophysical transfer. As in something encoded in the biophysical change in cells that allows it to adapt via experience.  

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