Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
Airs Weekdays 2:31, 3:31 and 5:49 a.m.

Cybersluggish




Graphic by Mikhail Voloshin

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Feeling—literally—SLUGGISH?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Brains are like computer programs. Information in, decision out. For example, if hungry, eat whatever’s around. REALLY hungry? How deadly ARE those month old leftovers? But this analogy is a gross simplification, RIGHT?

Meet Rhanor Gillette from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His lab mapped out the brain of the sea slug. Then they created the CYBERSLUG, a computer simulation of its entire brain!

Simple brains mean simple motivations. Slugs eat, mate, or flee. But specific decisions are more nuanced. Slugs remember what food is tasty, and what food stings. As they get hungrier, they are more willing to fight stinging food. The simulated CYBERslug acts the same way, even without directly being programmed for it! It BEHAVES like a sea slug because it IS a sea slug, sort of.

Researchers think that slug-like programming lies deep within our own brains.  By breaking down this behavior, researchers hope to better understand the whole brain.

No wonder we all feel sluggish. And I just thought it was Monday!