Worm Study Helps Scientists Understand How Young Brains Form Lifelong Memories

New York, NY (Scicasts) — Members of neuroscientist Cori Bargmann’s lab spend quite a bit of their time watching worms move around. These tiny creatures, Caenorhabditis elegans, feed on soil bacteria, and their very lives depend on their ability to distinguish toxic microbes from nutritious ones. In a recent study, Bargmann and her colleagues have shown that worms in their first larval stage can learn what harmful bacterial strains smell like, and form aversions to those smells that last into adulthood. Many animals are capable of making vital, lifelong memories during a critical period soon after birth. The phenomenon, known as imprinting, allows newly hatched geese to bond with their moms, and makes it possible for salmon to return to their native stream after spawning. And while the learning processes…


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