Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology

Audrey Dussutour (University of Toulouse)

Decision making and learning abilities in non neural organisms, evidence from slime molds.

Dr Audrey Dussutour
Dr Audrey Dussutour

Audrey Dussutour,  IVEP team, University of Toulouse

— Learning and decision making have hitherto been investigated almost exclusively in multicellular neural organisms. Evidence for learning and decision making in non-neural multicellular organisms are scant and only a few unequivocal reports of learning and decision making have been described in single celled organisms. In this conference, in a first part, I will discuss decision making in slime molds and show how behavioral variation predicts decision accuracy in a unicellular organism: the slime mold Physarum polycephalum.  Second, I will demonstrate  that habituation, a simple form of learning, can be observed in slime molds. In a third part of this conference, I will show that a learned behavior can be transferred from one slime mold to another via cell fusion. In a last part, I will present a potential mechanism responsible for habituation in slime molds. All these results suggest that slime moulds may be an ideal model system in which to investigate fundamental mechanisms underlying the ground-floor of cognitive abilities. 

Host: Burkhardt Group