Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Caterpillar memory

Without looking into any of the technical details, I wonder if this week's discussion of Gilbert suggests alternate interpretations of what "memory" means here:
Adult moths can remember their "childhoods" as caterpillars, a new study has found. Recently scientists trained tobacco hornworm caterpillars in the lab to avoid a nail polish-like odor delivered in association with a mild shock. [...] As adults, they also avoided the nail-polish odor—showing that they had retained their larval memory.
(National Geographic story reporting on this PLoS One article.)

I wonder how one methodologically disentangles memory in the sense of conscious or semi-conscious recall and memory in the sense of encoded during the fixation period of developmental plasticities.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know how completely the nervous system regressed in metamorphosis. If it's basically pulped and rebuilt then stable epigenetic modification would be an obvious explanation of how this is possible. But is it?