Biosemiotics and slime mould

many headed slime - physarum polycephalum
Image by randomtruth via Flickr

New Scientist has an interesting article on the ways in which it may make sense to talk about non-conscious entities creating meaning. Biosemiotics.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727741.200-biosemiotics-searching-for-meanings-in-a-meadow.html?full=true

Hat tip to Meika.

I had been thinking abut this when I came across a report on the slime mould’s ‘irrational’ decision-making process.It seems that like humans, Physarum polycephalum makes quick foraging decisions based on comparisons of what’s available. These decisions aren’t strictly rational.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2010.1045

Canadian researcher Dr Tanya Latty of Sydney University said:

“If you are in a risky environment… it’s better to be able to make a quick decision that’s right most of the time rather than a perfect decision that takes too long and means you get eaten by something,”

There’s a radio interview on CBS.

…and another paper.

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Bias, learning to walk at the edge of Chaos

This is a guest post by Meika, for which, many thanks.

Cambridge-based researchers recently published a study providing experimental data which supports the idea that the human brain lives “on the edge of chaos”.
Its press release ends:

According to [co-author] Kitzbichler, this new evidence is only a starting point. “A natural next question we plan to address in future research will be: How do measures of critical dynamics relate to cognitive performance or neuropsychiatric disorders and their treatments?”

Well, taking that ‘cognitive performance’ a bit more specifically to include learning, and learning to walk in particular, the following story leads in an interesting direction for us fourculture fans.
Five years ago… Continue reading “Bias, learning to walk at the edge of Chaos”

East meets West: are there just two cultures?

New Scientist has an article by Ed Yong on the dichotomy between eastern and western thought.

But there are more than two alternatives (western/individualist/analytic vs eastern/collective/holistic)… Continue reading “East meets West: are there just two cultures?”