Does the Human Heart have Memory?
Asked by Samantha Whiley. There are stories of heart transplant patients taking on characteristics of the donor. In one case, the recipient developed a craving for the donor’s favourite snack. This has been called ‘cellular memory’ or ‘body memory’: a pseudoscience with no basis in rigorous scientific testing. However, even though there isn’t any hard evidence of ‘cellular memory’ in humans, it may exist in other species, as suggested by this news article in Nature. A slime mould is a single-celled organism (and therefore without brain) that is often found on the forest floor. They occasionally group up to search for food, and there is one species charmingly named the ‘dog vomit’ slime mould, which looks exactly as you’d picture it In the Nature experiment, slime moulds were given electric shocks at regular intervals. Remarkably, the scientists found that the slime actually began to anticipate the shocks. Even after a few hours of being left alone, the slime seemed to remember the exact pattern in which the shocks were applied. (They were shaking their fists at those damned scientists - Ed.) Clearly, cellular memory does exist in some form, but it probably can’t explain the strange phenomenon of hearts passing on personality traits from their donors. But as the Nature experiment shows, slime mould memory may help us better understand the evolutionary origins of our own memory.
Answered by Shambralyn Baker