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Leonardo Bich (ImmunoConcept), Minimal cognition and its foundations in regulatory mechanisms
31 May 2017 | 14 h 30 min - 16 h 00 min
Leonardo Bich (ERC IDEM, ImmunoConcEpT, CNRS & University of Bordeaux)
“Minimal cognition and its foundations in regulatory mechanisms in basic living systems”
This talk addresses the question of minimal cognition by investigating the origin of some crucial cognitive properties in the very basic organisation of biological systems. Unlike other approaches to the origin of cognition, which are centred on movement (in unicellular systems) or on the role of the nervous system (in metazoans), I focus on specific molecular adaptive mechanisms that justify the attribution of cognitive capabilities already to prokaryotic organisms. More specifically, I propose a theoretical model of how a system can distinguish between specific features of its interaction with the environment, which is a fundamental requirement for the emergence of minimal forms of cognition, and I analyse its implications by comparing different possible mechanisms underlying chemotactic behaviours in synthetic-abiotic and unicellular living systems. I argue that the appearance of the capacity to functionally distinguish between different features of the environment is grounded in the molecular domain, and originates from basic mechanisms of biological regulation. In conclusion, I show how this framework can provide new and more accurate tools to discuss the Life=Cognition thesis.