Intelligence, cognition, and language of green plants

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A summary definition of some 70 descriptions of intelligence provides a definition for all other organisms including plants that stresses fitness. Barbara McClintock, a plant biologist, posed the notion of the 'thoughtful cell' in her Nobel prize address. The systems structure necessary for a thoughtful cell is revealed by comparison of the interactome and connectome. The plant root cap, a group of some 200 cells that act holistically in responding to numerous signals, likely possesses a similar systems structure agreeing with Darwin's description of acting like the brain of a lower organism. Intelligent behavior requires assessment of different choices and taking the beneficial one. Decisions are constantly required to optimize the plant phenotype to a dynamic environment and the cambium is the assessing tissue diverting more or removing resources from different shoot and root branches through manipulation of vascular elements. Environmental awareness likely indicates consciousness. Spontaneity in plant behavior, ability to count to five and error correction indicate intention. Volatile organic compounds are used as signals in plant interactions and being complex in composition may be the equivalent of language accounting for self and alien recognition by individual plants. Game theory describes competitive interactions. Interactive and intelligent outcomes emerge from application of various games between plants themselves and interactions with microbes. Behavior profiting from experience, another simple definition of intelligence, requires both learning and memory and is indicated in the priming of herbivory, disease and abiotic stresses.




Trewavas, A. (2016). Intelligence, cognition, and language of green plants. Frontiers in Psychology. Frontiers Media S.A.

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