Taking memory beyond the brain: Does tobacco dream of the mosaic virus?

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HighlightsAny experimental study of memory uses behavior, and thus movement, to define it.A broader definition of memory independent of behavior is proposed.Any system’s memory is viewed as the temporal profile of its return to homeostasis.Many non-neural systems possess memory under the homeostatic definition.Evolutionary advent of memory function and mechanism may precede nervous systems.Memory is typically defined through animal behavior, but this point of view may limit our understanding of many related processes in diverse biological systems. The concept of memory can be broadened meaningfully by considering it from the perspective of time and homeostasis. On the one hand, this theoretical angle can help explain and predict the behavior of various non-neural systems such as insulin-secreting cells, plants, or signaling cascades. On the other hand, it emphasizes biological continuity between neural phenomena, such as synaptic plasticity, and their evolutionary precursors in cellular signaling.

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