Spatial memory enhances an organism’s navigational ability. Memory typically resides within the brain, but what if an organism has no brain? We show that the brainless slime mold Physarum polycephalum constructs a form of spatial memory by avoiding areas it has previously explored. This mechanism allows the slime mold to solve the U-shaped trap problem—a classic test of autonomous navigational ability commonly used in robotics—requiring the slime mold to reach a chemoattractive goal behind a U-shaped barrier.
Slime mold uses an externalized spatial “memory” to navigate in complex environments
Chris R. Reid, Tanya Latty, Audrey Dussutour, and Madeleine Beekman
PNAS October 8, 2012