The oozing yellow organism has no neurons, but it can solve mazes, make decisions, and learn by merging together
By Ed Yong
Published: Dec 21, 2016, The Atlantic; https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/12/the-brainless-slime-that-can-learn-by-fusing/511295/
Level of difficulty: **
WATCH AND LISTEN
· You don’t need a brain to think https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eas2zOSKIaQ
· What humans can learn from semi-intelligent slime https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UxGrde1NDA
· Are you smarter than slime mold? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8HEDqoTPgk
Remember to watch the videos in the text when you reach them.
1. What is surprising about the escape artists in Dossutour’s lab?
2. We understand from paragraph two that unicellular organisms are / aren’t expected to be able to perform………….
3. We understand from paragraph three that Physarum is extremely clever / versatile/ active/ dull/ elastic.
4. We understand from paragraph four that the Plasmodium
· Is motivated into taking certain action
· Is influenced by physical stimuli
· Is susceptible to light
· Hunts for its food
· Has a sense of rhythm
5. What does “This simple behavior” in the sentence “This simple behavior can produce extraordinary results” refer to? Be very careful. The fact that….
6. We conclude from the paragraph beginning “It can also rival…” that
· Brainpower is not needed to build a rail network
· Slime mold should be used more widely in engineering projects
· The slime mold can move if it is fed
· Slime mold is capable of much more than we realized
· Slime mold needs more time than engineers to map a network
7. What immediate conclusion can be drawn from the experiment involving repellents? Slime molds seem to be capable of….
8. What is the ultimate conclusion we can draw from the experiment? It seems to be possible…
9. We understand from the second bridge experiment that once habituated slime mold is allowed to fuse with completely unhabituated slime mold, …(Mark T/ F)
· Memories are transferred
· Memories are concentrated
· Memories are not eradicated
· Memories remain intact
· Memories can become fused
10. The conclusion that can be drawn from the experiments with slime mold and worms is that………………….
11. What does “that” at the end of the text refer to?
Write a one paragraph summary of the text
A BRAINLESS SLIME THAT SHARE MEMORIES BY FUSING; KEY AND TEACHERS’ NOTES
This is a fascinating science text detailing the incredible feats single cell life forms like slime mold can perform despite not having neurons. It should appeal to science students.
1. They are slime molds
2. Aren’t/ complicated and almost intelligent behavior
4. Is influenced by physical stimuli
5. The fact that it behaves like a colony
6. Slime mold is capable of much more than we realized
8. For a cell to learn
9. T / F/ T/ T/ F
10. Memory doesn’t depend on neurons
11. How the brainless majority are able to adapt their behavior in changing environments