Flatworm memory:
Alas I have lost track of a reference in which it was suggested that the size of the human brain developed for social purposes.  My reaction was that dogs have better social reflexes than we do, and their brains aren’t all that big for their size.  Of course I should have reasoned that mate choice is the biggest issue in humans and that the critical factor is kinship somewhere out a few cousins distant.  Thus it requires keeping track of social clues that depend on events that happened generations before the time the human must make a mate choice.  And we have never really known the rules.  So some sort of proxy must be found.  Pretty much I guess it was worked out by the matchmaking elder women of the band, but I have know idea what criteria they discussed.  Some day somebody should look into it.

And brains don’t have to be very big to work very well.  I suspect that given a crow with the social skills of a dog I could get it to earn an online college degree.  Maybe not.  A cockatoo has a very sophisticated way of socializing although it lacks the canine capacity for unconditional love. 

And then there is the flatworm.  It was long ago demonstrated that you could train a flatworm to run a maze, chop it up and feed it to another flatworm and the cannibal would gain an advantage in learning the maze.  I think they went so far as to say it was the RNA that encoded the information.  Now they have come up with something new.  (Arielle Duhaime-Ross Total Recall SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN vol. 309 no. 4 October 2013 page 29)

This time they introduced a flatworm to a new environment, cut its head off (you really don’t want to take a job as a research assistant if you are a flatworm), let the head re grow and behold the tail-descended intact worm could, better recognize the environment than one for whom that environment was new.  In other words the tail participated in the memory.

That’s amazing.  There is more cognitive ability sloshing around than I would have suspected.  So why do I seem to keep running into cognitive puzzles I can’t solve, like what exactly is the mechanism for the effect I keep harping on?

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