[ExI] Bees are clever!

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Wed Apr 22 19:10:17 UTC 2015

On 21 April 2015 at 23:13, Anders Sandberg wrote:
> I have another new favourite smart arthropod, the Portia spiders.
> They hunt other spiders and it looks like they actually out-think them.
> Using 600,000 neurons, 60% of a bee.
> http://www.dichotomistic.com/mind_readings_spider%20minds.html
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portia_(genus)
> http://www.rifters.com/real/2009/01/iterating-towards-bethlehem.html

The article on bee cognition made a passing reference to sea slugs
'who don't even have a brain'.  Hmmm, I thought, I'd better check that

So -
The star of the neuroscience research lab is the species of sea snail
known as Aplysia californica. The mollusk has contributed a lot to our
understanding of learning and memory
The sea slug has about 10,000 neurons that control movement, memory
and learning.
(And it has won a Nobel Prize).

The marine slug has a relatively simple nervous system, with about
10,000 large neurons that can be easily identified, compared with
about 100 billion neurons in humans. Even so, the animal is capable of
learning and its brain cells communicate in ways identical to human
neuron-to-neuron messaging.

Like a meticulously-crafted spider web, most neurons sport thousands
of strands that connect to other neurons. To journey between certain
neurons, a signal must flow along the correct strands and
intersections. Similarly, to store a memory that pathway, called a
synapse, must be strengthened.

In past studies, scientists have found that once the route-map gets
made, the sea slug marks the synapses connecting the relevant neurons.
Next time the slug gets pinched, a certain protein gets sent out to
all the synapses in a neuron. When the protein reaches a marked
synapse, it triggers other molecules there to produce new proteins
that strengthen the neuron-to-neuron connection.

So please don't mock the humble sea snail!   :)


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