Plants “deciding”. Death and Life.

Advertisements

f3428f25f22a0a05a88530262811269e

Animals facing competition have been shown to optimally choose between different behaviors, including confrontation, avoidance and tolerance, depending on the competitive ability of their opponents relative to their own. For example, if their competitors are bigger or stronger, animals are expected to “give up the fight” and choose avoidance or tolerance over confrontation.

Similar responses are documented for plant as well. Plants can detect the presence of other competing plants through various cues, such as the reduction in light quantity or in the ratio of red to far-red wavelengths (R:FR), which occurs when light is filtered through leaves. Such competition cues are known to induce two types of responses: confrontational vertical elongation, by which plants try to outgrow and shade their neighbors, and shade tolerance, which promotes performance under limited light conditions. Some plants, such as clonal plants, can exhibit avoidance behavior as a third response type: they grow away from their neighbors.

To learn if plants can choose between these responses and match them to the relative size and density of their opponents, researchers used the clonal plant Potentilla reptans in an experimental setup that simulated different light-competition settings. They used vertical stripes of transparent green filters that reduce both light quantity and R:FR and could therefore provide a realistic simulation of light competition.

The results demonstrated that Potentilla reptans can indeed choose its response to competition in an optimal way. (1)

We have named simple interactions “decisions”.

And yet, a decision is not to do what you are programmed to do. A decision is not to just obey to your genes or your… chemistry. True decisions are those made against all genetics or environmental input. True decisions are those made against the result of “laws” or rules.

Imagine a cold universe.

Full of plants. Full of interactions.

A universe dark and empty.

A lifeless universe.

True decisions are the rare moments when rules are rendered unimportant due to the sheer will to decide. True decisions are those made independently of the “interactions”. When you decide to die for what you believe, even though everything and everyone tells you the opposite. When you decide to love someone, even though everything in your brain tells you this is crazy.

Imagine a cold universe.

Full of plants. Full of interactions.

A universe dark and empty.

This universe will never be alive.

Until a person decides to die in it…

Collective opinions…

Advertisements

How are we affected by other peoples’ opinions? To answer this question, scientists at the CNRS, Inra and Université Toulouse 1 Capitole conducted a study in France and Japan, quantifying this impact on our decisions. They identified five behaviors common to both countries: the majority of subjects make a compromise between their opinion and that of others (59% of people in France), some hold to their opinion (29% in France), whereas others follow faithfully, amplify or contradict the information they receive. The study also shows how social information can help a group collectively improve its performance and the precision of its estimates. From this analysis, a model has been developed that reproduces the results of the study and predicts the performance of a group depending on the amount and quality of information exchanged between its members. The long-term goal would be to develop algorithms for decision-making support tools. The results of this study were published on November 6, 2017 in PNAS. (1)

We do not decide on our own.

Even when we think we do.

The ghosts of others are always with us.

Either as a force of reassurance or as a force of reaction.

The only way to think is by not thinking.

Because what you feel as your thought,

is not your own at all…

Exit mobile version
%%footer%%