If you freeze this worm, it will suddenly remember things

About the episode

The model worm C elegans, which is used in many scientific studies, doesn't have a very good memory. After a few hours, the new information disappears as if it never existed at all. Unless you make such a worm very cold very quickly, or give it lithium.

The researchers in this preprint do not suggest that we should freeze ourselves off from a certain age or stock up on lithium. But it certainly also has interesting effects on our memory, which may have been discovered here and now.

For example, what about the regulatory molecule that plays an important role in this process in these worms? What functions does it have in humans?

But back to this research: You can't, of course, ask a worm whether it remembers what day it was yesterday. So how can they check whether this worm still knows something or not?

What they did was train the worms to associate a certain smell with a lack of food. If they smell the odor again soon afterward, they've learned: it's not good. But after two hours, they forgot about it again. Unless they have been placed on ice for at least 16 hours, or given lithium.

The effect is not permanent. If the frozen worms are returned to room temperature, the countdown clock keeps ticking, and you've forgotten about it after three hours.

Read more about the research here: How to freeze a memory: Putting worms on ice prevents them from forgetting

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Megan Vasquez

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