Let's study ID: giraffe plumbing: cognition (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Friday, October 22, 2021, 18:33 (36 days ago) @ dhw

Immunity system complexity

DAVID: That cognizance is automatic is what I was taught.

dhw: Then perhaps you should consult your dictionary instead of believing your teacher. Cognizance: 1. knowledge or understanding of something. 2. Take cognizance of something: to understand something and consider it when you take action or make a decision. (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English). Many definitions even include the word “awareness”. Look it up for yourself.

I've consulted the literature for the biology of cellular cognition:


"What is cognition? Like many mental concepts, the term has no consensus definition, a fact that infuriated William James 130 years ago and occasional others since. This is my definition: Cognition comprises the means by which organisms become familiar with, value, exploit and evade features of their surroundings in order to survive, thrive and reproduce.


"Maturana’s account of cognition focuses on the organism’s need to interact continually with its surroundings to accomplish this amazing feat. This ‘domain of interactions’ between organism and environment is cognition for Maturana, such that ‘living as a process is a process of cognition’ (author’s italics), a claim I have confirmed in bacteria to my satisfaction.


"Perception, memory, valence, learning, decision-making, anticipation, communication – all once thought the preserve of humankind – are found in a wide variety of living things, including bacteria, unicellular eukaryotes, plants, fungi, non-neuronal animals, and animals with simple nervous systems and brains.


"Complex behaviours coordinated by thousands of interacting, autonomous cells are well studied in bacteria (eg, Bacillus subtilis, Myxococcus xanthus) and social amoeba (Dictyostelium discoideum). The discovery in B subtilis of colonies of long-distance electrical signalling via ion channels – the mechanism of electrical transmission in neurons – provided ‘proof of concept’ that microbes can illuminate cognitive mechanisms ordinarily associated with complex animals. This finding led to further discoveries of previously unknown collective bacterial behaviours that resemble some types of cognitive brain activity, including memory. Studies of bacterial behaviour mediated by electrical signalling are just beginning.

"Network activity among bacterial signal transduction proteins was first described 25 years ago. Today, the network properties of large arrays of signalling proteins, common in bacteria that rely on whip-like flagella to navigate chemical gradients (chemotaxis), are an active area of research. Highly conserved over the course of evolution, this architecture has been compared only slightly tongue-in-cheek to a ‘nanobrain’, because it functions as a network, is capable of processing large amounts of information, is exquisitely sensitive to tiny changes in environmental conditions,

"These arrays might be processing more information than imagined. Escherichia coli recently were found to reject the bacterial equivalent of junk food due to sluggish growth. Chemotaxis, movement toward or away from some states of affairs, is one of E coli’s most energetically costly behaviours; it should be puzzling that bacteria will leave available food (the proverbial bird in the hand) and continue foraging for better nutrition elsewhere – except that the strategy often works.


"Second, context and the organism’s internal state proved much more important to behaviour than initially thought. Context and internal state are believed to be signalled by molecules – neuromodulators and their smaller cousins, neuropeptides – although precisely how is unclear. These signalling molecules, many of which are produced by neurons themselves, can alter neural function from seconds to minutes to hours; interact with different targets (other neurons, muscle cells, glands); and activate or silence entire circuits. C elegans produces more than 100 such molecules. (my bold)

"In bacteria and unicellular eukaryotes (cells with a defined nucleus, which bacteria lack), coordinated activity involving thousands of individuals – the equivalent of multicellular behaviour – is also facilitated by signalling molecules, a phenomenon called quorum sensing. Quorum sensing molecules have been compared to hormones because they alter behaviour by similar mechanisms. As hormones do in animals and plants – and the activity of neuromodulators and neuropeptides is not dissimilar – signalling molecules produced by microbial cells induce changes in behaviour in four ways: 1) in the producing cell; 2) in an immediate neighbour via cell-cell contact; 3) within cell neighbourhoods; and 4) in cells at longer distances. Many unicellular signalling molecules exist but far fewer than in multicellular organisms." (my bolds)

Comment: My bolds focus on the fact that molecules alone are in action for this basic form of cognition. Some molecules in bacteria recognize sugar molecules and other food molecules by shape or by electrical signaling from the molecules ionic portions. This is automaticity of cognition, no real thought involved, not dictionary human definition.

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