Monday, January 12, 2015

A comment by Arild Hestvik on the Gallistel conjecture

I got this very interesting comment from Arild Hestvik concerning Randy’s recent work (here). Arild had trouble posting it so I am doing the honors for him.  I am not sure what the issues are with Blogger comments. However, I think that having a gmail account really helps a lot. Those of you who know this stuff chime on in. Anyhow, thx Arild. Oh yes, I am putting it in as a post rather than a comment because it is so intriguing. I’ll see if I can post something on the relevant papers later on today.


Here is a simple piece of evidence for the Gallistel conjecture: There are some single cell organisms that can learn to anticipate periodic events: the slime-mold, when given an electric shock blocking its path forward, will after a while stop its movement at the predicted interval (even in the absence of a shock). This is a classical conditioning/association type learning paradigm: it must store a time/distance interval and "remember" what happens. Since there is only 1 cell there can be no synaptic network of connection to store the information: Voila! It can even find the shortest path out of a maze. Here are the papers:

Nakagaki, T., H. Yamada, et al. (2000). "Intelligence: Maze-solving by an amoeboid organism." Nature 407(6803): 470-470.

Wang, M., Saal, F. S., & Nature, F. S. (2000). Maze-solving by an amoeboid organism, 407(September), 2000.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Correction: the correct 2nd reference is: Saigusa, T., A. Tero, et al. (2008). "Amoebae Anticipate Periodic Events." Physical Review Letters 100(1): 018101.

  3. Being unable to comment can have multiple reasons. If you don't see the comment window at all, your browser might be too old (as in, several years out of date). If you can type comments but they don't get posted, it's usually an issue with adblocking software or cookies, e.g. if you're blocking 3rd party cookies. Some browser extensions that are designed to increase privacy and security (noscript, betterprivacy, etc) can also mess up the comments function.

    In my personal experience, comments work only erratically with my standard browser, so I have a separate light-weight browser with default settings just for FOL.

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