The Life & Mind Seminar Network

Are plants cognitive?

Posted in General, Resources by Ezequiel on July 19, 2011

A new paper by Paco Calvo and Fred Keijzer has appeared in the latest issue of Adaptive Behavior. I think several readers of this blog will find it interesting, possibly controversial… Worth a read!

Calvo Garzón, P. and Keijzer, F. (2011) Plants: Adaptive behavior, root-brains, and minimal cognition, Adaptive Behavior, 19, 155-171, doi: 10.1177/1059712311409446.

Plant intelligence has gone largely unnoticed within the field of animal and human adaptive behavior. In this context, we will introduce current work on plant intelligence as a new set of relevant phenomena that deserves attention and also discuss its potential relevance for the study of adaptive behavior more generally. More specifically, we first give a short overview of adaptive behavior in plants to give some body to the notion of plants as acting creatures. Second, we focus on ‘‘plant neurobiology’’ and introduce the resurfacing of Darwin’s idea that plants have a control center for behavior dispersed across the root tips (a root-brain). We then discuss minimal forms of cognition, and consider motility and having a dedicated sensorimotor organization as key features for designating the domain of minimal cognition. We conclude that plants are minimally cognitive, and close by discussing some of the implications and challenges that plant intelligence provide for the study of adaptive behavior and embodied cognitive science more generally.


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