Unraveling Reality {30}

Intelligence

“Life requires cognition at all levels.” ~ American molecular biologist James Shapiro

Every life is a consciousness housed in a mind-body. Though organisms may not have a physically identifiable seat of intelligence, such as a brain, all have a mind. This is shown by the way organisms behaviorally adapt to their habitat.

“Cognitive abilities are found very low on the evolutionary tree.” ~ Austrian neurobiologist Gero Miesenböck

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Just as energy fabricates matter, the mind depicts the body. Feeling a phantom limb illustrates. 60–80% of amputees feel sensations where amputated limbs used to be. Animals other than humans also sense phantom limbs.

Mind-body asymmetry is also illustrated by stress. Physical exertion tires the body, but does not otherwise tax awareness, which may be enlivened by exercise. Contrastingly, mental stress, such as worry and fear, systemically degrades both mind and body.

Quorum-Sensing

“Bacteria show patterns of collective behavior that reflect social intelligence.” ~ Israeli physicist Eshel Ben-Jacob et al

Using language compellingly is commonly thought to be unique to humans. But persuasive conversation started billions of years ago with bacteria.

Quorum-sensing (QS) is the general term for decision-making in decentralized groups to coordinate behavior. Microbes practice quorum-sensing by exchange of chemical signals. Using a common language, many different bacteria employ quorum-sensing to synchronize their activities. Viruses employ QS to make group decisions during infection.

Such language is widespread. Eukaryotic cells respond to QS signaling. Human white blood cells can be induced to change their behavior by receiving such signals.

“Quorum-sensing is used to coordinate the switching on of social behaviors at high densities when such behaviors are more efficient and will provide the greatest benefit.” ~ English molecular biologist Sophie Darch

For microbes, the density of group populations must be high enough for QS to be effective in coordinating activities. Until population density reaches a recognized threshold, QS is merely a monitoring mechanism. Biofilms (colonies of microbes, commonly called slime) facilitate productive quorum-sensing.

Many species of bacteria coordinate their gene expression via QS. In effect, via quorum-sensing, single-cell microbes behave as a multicellular organism.

Quorum-sensing is a conserved trait throughout life. Social insects use quorum-sensing to make collective decisions, such as where to forage or nest, as do schools of fish when feeding or evading predators.