Story 2014-03-20 3GM Fruit Flies are Better at Calculus than You

Fruit Flies are Better at Calculus than You

in science on (#3GM)
Some researchers at Cornell University have been studying the way fruit flies respond to gusty winds. They've found that the wing neurons are able to react without input from the brain to more quickly respond to changing wind conditions. Reported by the New York Times : "Whatever the fly neurons are doing, they have the right stuff. The wings of fruit flies beat about 250 times a second. Disturb a fly's flight in an extreme way, Dr. Cohen said, and 'within three wing beats that sucker has recovered completely.'"

The research papers can be found here and here .
Reply 7 comments

where is intelligence located (Score: 4, Interesting)

by on 2014-03-20 22:28 (#QH)

in biological organisms. We typically think about the mind being in the brain, but studies like this suggest that intelligence can be distributed through the body.

Notwithstanding the obvious other "brains" we might joke about having, I wonder how distributed human intelligence is and where we draw the line between a "mechanical" response versus an "intelligent" one from a given subsystem of the body.

Re: where is intelligence located (Score: 3, Informative)

by on 2014-03-21 03:19 (#QP)

Usually it isn't phrased as intelligence vs. not, it's described as conscious vs. unconscious. Conscious thought does happen in the brain, but a lot of unconscious things that you do are more distributed. Sneezing, orgasms, some reactions, are managed by your spinal cord.

There was that famous headless chicken, forget his name, that survived for quite a long time with no brain.

Re: where is intelligence located (Score: 3, Interesting)

by on 2014-03-21 09:21 (#QR)

There's the famous muscle memory as well, not exactly an issue of intelligence, but habitual movement of certain muscle groups when certain neurons fire. 250 beats per second is pretty impressive, and being able to correct in 3 beats is also impressive. But somehow it's not surprising - if you're a fruitfly, remaining airborne seems like it should be what you focus most of your mental energy on.

Re: where is intelligence located (Score: 3, Informative)

by on 2014-03-21 11:56 (#QV)

This article suggests muscles retain information about the individual's past muscular fitness and ability through use of DNA. DNA memory coupled with millions of years of selective evolution would create some pretty efficient muscular systems (If said memory can be passed down through offspring).

Re: where is intelligence located (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-03-21 12:12 (#QX)

Your linked article was really, really interesting.

One of the highlights for me was the experiments in mice taking 6 days of exercise before new "good nuclei" started to form. Usually my attempts to re-energize my exercise regimens trail off in 3 :).

The downside was having to read yet another article implying that I should have taken better care of myself prior to now...

Re: where is intelligence located (Score: 2, Insightful)

by on 2014-03-21 13:58 (#R4)

Heh, same here. I can be a creature of habit, but creating those habits can be quite difficult. Exercise habits are losing the fight.

Re: where is intelligence located (Score: 3, Informative)

by on 2014-03-21 11:42 (#QT)

"Miracle Mike"