Learning in Plants: Lessons from Mimosa pudica

Front Psychol. 2016 Mar 31;7:417. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00417. eCollection 2016.


This article provides an overview of the early Mimosa pudica literature; much of which is in journals not easily accessible to the reader. In contrast to the contemporary plant learning literature which is conducted primarily by plant biologists, this early literature was conducted by comparative psychologists whose goal was to search for the generality of learning phenomena such as habituation, and classical conditioning using experimental designs based on animal conditioning studies. In addition to reviewing the early literature, we hope to encourage collaborations between plant biologists and comparative psychologists by familiarizing the reader with issues in the study of learning faced by those working with animals. These issues include no consistent definition of learning phenomena and an overreliance on the use of cognition. We suggested that greater collaborative efforts be made between plant biologists and comparative psychologists if the study of plant learning is to be fully intergraded into the mainstream behavior theory.

Keywords: classical conditioning; instrumental conditioning; learning; operant conditioning; plants.

Publication types

  • Review