Thursday, February 9, 2012

Deborah M. Gordon, Ants and brain neurons

Australian jumping ant. ANTWEB

Deborah M. Gordon

Deborah M. Gordon, Stanford University assistant professor of biological sciences, studies ants.

She does so although her first name in Biblical Hebrew means a "Bee". Well, also bees show amazing collective intelligence!

Collective intelligence: Ants and brain's neurons

God's masterpiece of creation - the brains of an ant

Quote from Stanford news:

An individual ant is not very bright, but ants in a colony, operating as a collective, do remarkable things.

A single neuron in the human brain can respond only to what the neurons connected to it are doing, but all of them together can be Immanuel Kant.

That resemblance is why Deborah M. Gordon, Stanford University assistant professor of biological sciences, studies ants.

"I'm interested in the kind of system where simple units together do behave in complicated ways," she said.

No one gives orders in an ant colony, yet each ant decides what to do next.

For instance, an ant may have several job descriptions. When the colony discovers a new source of food, an ant doing housekeeping duty may suddenly become a forager. Or if the colony's territory size expands or contracts, patroller ants change the shape of their reconnaissance pattern to conform to the new realities. Since no one is in charge of an ant colony - including the misnamed "queen," which is simply a breeder - how does each ant decide what to do?

This kind of undirected behavior is not unique to ants, Gordon said. How do birds flying in a flock know when to make a collective right turn? All anchovies and other schooling fish seem to turn in unison, yet no one fish is the leader.

Gordon studies harvester ants in Arizona and, both in the field and in her lab, the so-called Argentine ants that are ubiquitous to coastal California.
"A colony is analogous to a brain where there are lots of neurons, each of which can only do something very simple, but together the whole brain can think. None of the neurons can think ant, but the brain can think ant, though nothing in the brain told that neuron to think ant."

Quoted from STANFORD news release archive (11/15/93)

Fabulous text about intelligence and brain, isn't it! 

1 comment:

  1. this is amazing! truly this is just more evidence that God exists-Amen!