Is Plant 'Intelligence' Just a Human Fantasy?
Although plants make up over 80% of the biomass on Earth, for centuries they have been thought of as inanimate and passive things. Researchers even coined the term “plant blindness” to refer to a cognitive bias that literally makes our brains zone out plants in our view and underestimate their importance.
But as research into the plant world has blossomed over the past 40 years, thanks in part to new biotechnologies allowing scientists to study gene expression, scientists are discovering how truly alive plants are. Even as new revelations change our knowledge of plant abilities, though, the debate on whether plants can be considered sentient remains contentious.
“I think plants are massively taken for granted. I think they are extremely sophisticated organisms. They are adapting exquisitely well to the changes around them all the time,” Claire Grierson, a plant biologist at the University of Bristol, told Gizmodo. “I think we can learn a hell of a lot from plants philosophically.”
Scientific research into plant cognition dates back to Charles Darwin, who would draw parallels between plant roots and the brain. Ever since, studious circles around the world have taken a leaf out of his book, from the controversial publishing of Secret Life of Plants in the 1970s, which goes as far as saying plants can read human minds, to Daniel Chamowitz’s 2013 book What a Plant Knows, which explores how plants’ acute senses teach them about the world.
Although no plant has a central nervous system, some researchers are exploring the field of neurobiology ...
More on: gizmodo.com