Electrical experiments with plants that count and communicate


Neuroscientist Greg Gage takes sophisticated equipment used to study the brain out of graduate-level labs and brings them to middle- and high-school classrooms (and, sometimes, to the TED stage.) Prepare to be amazed as he hooks up the Mimosa pudica, a plant whose leaves close when touched, and the Venus flytrap to an EKG to show us how plants use electrical signals to convey information, prompt movement and even count.

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About agogo22

Director of Manchester School of Samba at http://www.sambaman.org.uk
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7 Responses to Electrical experiments with plants that count and communicate

  1. Now that’s interesting. That confirms the discussion we had the other day.

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    • agogo22 says:

      True, but I still find the idea of the ability to count in the absence of a central nervous system somewhat alien.

      Perhaps it’s more like their use of chemical signals, and they only react past a certain set size (many plants will thrive when given water, and wilt if you do so too often for example, but exactly how many times count as “too often” can vary amongst individuals).

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      • I don’t think it is counting like we do. The fly trap can “feel” the difference between a real fly and something just brushing (set size?). I don’t think it is counting seconds.

        The watering seems a bit different to me, as a plant can only “stomach” a certain amount of water, some more than others.

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      • agogo22 says:

        So in a sense plants have perception of duration. I wonder if it differs according to lifespan as it does for animals (mouse – human – tortoise cf daisy – sequoia – silver birch grove)?

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      • That will be difficult to find out won’t it? I mean, if large trees have a slow perception of duration, it might take a human lifespan for one reaction.
        I am just thinking of the mimosa, which is a small bush and can live 1 to more years (I couldn’t find anything more specific) and reacts quicker than the flytrap, which is a perennial. This would be in accord with your thought.

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      • agogo22 says:

        Very true {see this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pando_(tree)} but forestry management is still a science? Sudden death for Pando could take decades in our terms!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. There is so much we don’t know yet … or not anymore. In any case we are living in “interesting times”.

    Liked by 1 person

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