New Study Finds Cuttlefish Retain Their Memory With Age

Many people don’t realize it, but cuttlefish are intelligent invertebrates and are related to the octopus and squid. Researchers have previously discovered that cuttlefish can pass the “marshmallow test,” and new research just goes to show how smart they are.

In fact, a new study shows that the unique invertebrates don’t lose their memory with age.

Researchers with the University of Cambridge’s Department of Psychology published a study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B outlining their discovery.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In the study, they explained that, unlike humans and other non-human mammals, cuttlefish don’t have episodic memory that declines with age. Instead, they’re able to retain their memories throughout the duration of their lives.

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According to the study, it could be that the hippocampus, or lack thereof, is the key to their lasting memories. While humans and other forgetful mammals have a hippocampus, cuttlefish do not.

Photo: Pixabay/Naveen Manohar

Dr. Alexandra Schnell said in a statement:

“Cuttlefish can remember what they ate, where and when, and use this to guide their feeding decisions in the future. What’s surprising is that they don’t lose this ability with age, despite showing other signs of ageing like loss of muscle function and appetite.”

In the study, researchers put common cuttlefish of varying ages up to a series of memory tests. They trained the cuttlefish to respond to feeding flags. Eventually, they progressed to testing the cuttlefishes’ memory by using the feeding flags and the animals’ ability to respond.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Schnell explained, “The old cuttlefish were just as good as the younger ones in the memory task – in fact, many of the older ones did better in the test phase. We think this ability might help cuttlefish in the wild to remember who they mated with, so they don’t go back to the same partner.”

Since cuttlefish don’t have a hippocampus, their episodic memory is found in the “vertical lobe,” which stays the same during aging. It’s believed that could be the reason why their memory holds strong throughout their late lives.

Watch the video below to learn more:

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