Research Seminar: Dr Audrey Dussutour (Université Toulouse III)

30 October 2017, 1.00 PM - 30 October 2017, 2.00 PM

Dr Audrey Dussutour (Université Toulouse III) hosted by Dr Christos Ioannou

Life Sciences Seminar Room G13/14

Primitive cognition in slime molds

Abstract: Learning, defined as a change in behaviour evoked by experience, has hitherto been investigated almost exclusively in multicellular neural organisms. Evidence for learning in non-neural multicellular organisms is scant and only a few unequivocal reports of learning have been described in single-celled organisms. In this seminar, in a first part, I will demonstrate habituation, an unmistakable form of learning, in the non-neural organism Physarum polycephalum. In a second part, I will show that learned information can be transferred from one cell to another via cell fusion. Our results point to the diversity of organisms lacking neurons, which likely display a hitherto unrecognized capacity for learning, and suggest that slime moulds may be an ideal model system in which to investigate fundamental mechanisms underlying primitive cognition.

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