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Episodic-like memory is preserved with age in cuttlefish.

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Schnell, Alexandra K 
Clayton, Nicola S 
Hanlon, Roger T 
Jozet-Alves, Christelle 


Episodic memory, remembering past experiences based on unique what-where-when components, declines during ageing in humans, as does episodic-like memory in non-human mammals. By contrast, semantic memory, remembering learnt knowledge without recalling unique what-where-when features, remains relatively intact with advancing age. The age-related decline in episodic memory likely stems from the deteriorating function of the hippocampus in the brain. Whether episodic memory can deteriorate with age in species that lack a hippocampus is unknown. Cuttlefish are molluscs that lack a hippocampus. We test both semantic-like and episodic-like memory in sub-adults and aged-adults nearing senescence (n = 6 per cohort). In the semantic-like memory task, cuttlefish had to learn that the location of a food resource was dependent on the time of day. Performance, measured as proportion of correct trials, was comparable across age groups. In the episodic-like memory task, cuttlefish had to solve a foraging task by retrieving what-where-when information about a past event with unique spatio-temporal features. In this task, performance was comparable across age groups; however, aged-adults reached the success criterion (8/10 correct choices in consecutive trials) significantly faster than sub-adults. Contrary to other animals, episodic-like memory is preserved in aged cuttlefish, suggesting that memory deterioration is delayed in this species.



ageing, cephalopod cognition, comparative cognition, semantic-like memory, time-place learning, what–where–when memory, Animals, Brain Mapping, Decapodiformes, Hippocampus, Memory, Episodic, Mental Recall

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Proc Biol Sci

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The Royal Society


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Royal Society (NIF/R1/180962)
Newton International Fellowship funded by the Royal Society Grass Fellowship funded by the Grass Foundation Endeavour Fellowship funded by the Department of Education, Australia Fyssen Foundation, France