Do Worms Have Brains? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

Worms are not the most intelligent animal, which leads a lot of people to believe they don’t have brains.

However, that’s not true at all because worms do have brains. They have a brain that allows them to use their senses, move around, and find food.

When looking at a worm, it’s easy to assume that it doesn’t have a brain. After all, it’s difficult to pinpoint where the worm’s head is located.

Today, we’re going to discuss whether or not worms have brains and how they work. 

So, Do Worms Have Brains?

Yes, worms do have brains.

However, it’s nowhere near as complex as the brains of other species. To be specific, it’s not as developed as the brains of other animals. A worm’s brain has an average of 300 neurons, which are the cells in the brain that are responsible for receiving sensory input.


To give you a better understanding of how many neurons that is, let’s take a look at how many neurons other species have on average:

  • Humans have an average of 86 billion neurons
  • Dogs have an average of 530 million neurons
  • Cats have an average of 250 million neurons
  • Chickens have 2 billion neurons
  • Flies have 100 thousand neurons

As you can see, 300 neurons is not a lot. The worm brain is not very complex at all. While they can use it to move around and avoid obstacles, they don’t use it to do any critical thinking. A worm won’t use their brain to plan what they are going to do or how it can do something differently. 

How Do Worms Brains Work?

A worm’s brain isn’t located at the top of its head like the human brain is, instead, it sits next to the other organs in its body. It connects the nerves to the skin and muscles.

All the nerves are controlled by the brain of the worm. Since their nervous system is much smaller than other animals, they do not need a complex brain to function. 

A worm’s brain is important for its senses. This is how they are able to feel things, such as pain or temperature changes. 

However, a worm’s brain isn’t capable of understanding emotions. Worms don’t use their brains to build relationships with each other or other species. This doesn’t mean they are cold-hearted or mean, it just means that the worm’s brain is simply not developed enough to be able to feel emotions.

How Do Worms Think?

A worm’s brain isn’t used to process thoughts like ours is. 

This means they won’t plan out what they are going to do or where they are going to go. While the brain can control the nerves, a worm’s nerves are not capable of producing thoughts. 


Yet, worms still move around and are capable of finding food and protection. If they didn’t have a brain, they would not be able to survive. So, how do they know what to do next in order to stay alive?

The worm’s nerves will detect different senses, and their bodies will react accordingly. They are able to detect different tastes, vibrations, and light. When their nerves sense these things, their body will respond with movement. While they will be able to function for basic survival, they won’ use their brains for activities.

How Does A Worm’s Brain Work For Survival?

Worms need to use their brains for survival or else they wouldn’t have been able to keep reproducing after all these years. Basically, there are 2 main things that worms use their brains for— food and temperature.

A worm will need to respond to temperatures so they don’t freeze to death.

When the temperatures start to drop to freezing levels, the worm’s nerves will feel the change. This signals their bodies to start moving to find a warmer habitat. The worm’s nerves will let their body know when they’ve reached more suitable conditions.

Additionally, a worm’s brain can also sense food and taste. Like every species, they need to eat to stay alive. While worms have a brain, something they don’t have is teeth. This doesn’t stop them from eating because their mouths are incredibly strong, allowing them to break down a lot of different materials. 

Worms use their brains to find food. They typically eat organic materials. Usually, worms will eat cells from leaves that have fallen to the ground, dead plants, or any food scraps they are able to find.  

How Many Brains Do Worms Have?

There is a common misconception that worms have two brains.

What they have is two cerebral ganglia, which form one primitive bilobed brain. A ganglion is a cluster of nerves, where the brain is the main control center. The nerve fibers and sensory fibers are what send signals to the worm to move, eat, and other bodily functions. 

If you were to observe a worm on the ground, you should notice that all of its movements are reactions to senses. The worm is able to move around and avoid obstacles based on what they feel and the amount of light present. If you were to touch that worm, you would also notice it do a wiggle as a response to the change in senses. 

Do Worms Have Memory?

A worm’s brain is not complex, so it’s very likely that they don’t remember things like interactions, places, or things that have happened in the past. For example, if a cat goes somewhere foreign and something scares them, they may remember and avoid that area. This isn’t the case with worms.

As of now, researchers have limited knowledge of how the worm’s brain works from memory. It’s assumed that most worm species don’t have any memories. However, researchers do believe that flatworms are capable of remembering certain things and they could even keep memories if they had been decapitated.

Can Worms Survive Decapitation?

Some worms can survive if they have been cut in half, which has led many people to believe that they’re able to survive decapitation.

Another misconception is that worms have two heads, which goes back to the belief that they have two brains. 

At first glance, it may look like the worm has no head. However, if you were to observe a worm with a microscopic lens, a distinct head would be noticeable at one end of the body, whilst a tail can be seen at the contrasting end.

In some instances, if a worm gets cut in half, it may survive. This is because its body has segments that can be regenerated. However, the only way this is possible is if the clitella is still attached to the worm’s head. If the clitella gets separated from the head, the worm will not be able to regenerate. 

Final Thoughts

Worms may not be the smartest animal on the planet, but they do have a little brain in their body.

The worm’s brain is a lot different than other species because it’s smaller, less developed, and located beside other vital organs. 

In order to survive, every animal needs a brain, and worms are no different. Their brains are used to detect senses, move around, and any other bodily function needed for survival. However, a worm isn’t capable of using its brains for thinking or emotions. Its brain is simply for senses.

Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than five years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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