Planarians, RNA, memory, cannibalism & knowlege

charles francis delwiche cdelwich at
Fri Oct 22 12:00:16 EST 1993

In <2a3ltn$pal at> mlevin at (Michael
Levin) writes:

>    I recently ran across some papers (maybe 10 years old or so)
>talking about the following experiments: in an attempt to prove that
>memory was "encoded" by RNA, some people took planarians, taught them
>various things, ground them up, and fed them to other planarians which
>were able to learn those things much faster. RNAse inhibited this

This, and some other times that scientists found themselves chasing up
blind alleys, are discussed in _The Golem:  What Everyone Should Know
About Science_ by Harry M. Collins and Trevor Pinch.  Cambridge
University Press: 1993.  Pp. 164.  There is a review of the book
by Walter Gratzer in the July 1 1993 edition of _Nature_: v.

It isn't urban myth per se; reputable scientists believed in memory
transfer, but it has never been conclusively demonstrated, and almost
certainly doesn't occur, at least not in the way that was believed in
the '60s.  But after all, science is about figuring out what holds
water and what doesn't.

Charles Delwiche

Charles F. Delwiche
Dept. Biology, I.U.       
Bloomington, IN 47405     
--> delwiche at is my preferred email address

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