Paper Monitor: Snail cocktail party

At last, an explanation for a common social failing.

Paper Monitor seems to remember reading somewhere that our brains shrink a bit at the weekend.

Quite where it was, eludes one. Memory is like that.

But a story in today's Times brings hope.

"Why you quickly forget what's-his-name" reveals that memory lapses may just be a temporary blip.

Scientists studying the memory of snails - yes, snails - found that the creatures may forget what they've just learned, before remembering it a few hours later. Sound familiar? The paper compares it to the ease with which we forget names at cocktail parties.

No-one knows why this temporary lapse occurs. The researchers suspect it might be caused by "windows of vulnerability" as memory moves from short-term to longer-term.

The Times leader describes it as a "thrilling revelation" for people who a) can't remember their favourite pizza topping and b) "had no idea snails even had names."

Idliko Kemenes, the memorably named scientist who you will have forgotten in a minute's time but remember during your lunch hour, attempts to explain the presence of snails in the research.

"Snails forget what they learnt about food, rather than names at parties, but the underlying molecular processes are the same."

So there was no snail drinks party with nibbles and prosecco? Fraid not. Instead the snails were introduced to a new food.

"When they were fed four hours later, they were able to remember that the new substance was edible - but at certain time windows, 30 minutes and two hours after the substance was introduced, the sails were temporarily unable to recall what it was."

Pork belly in a cranberry jus with dauphinoise potatoes. Or was that the other one?

But what should you do if you want to forget someone in a hurry. Quote Groucho Marx, the leader writer suggests. "I never forget a face but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception."

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