Slime mould: The fundamental mechanisms of biological cognition

Biosystems. 2018 Mar:165:57-70. doi: 10.1016/j.biosystems.2017.12.011. Epub 2018 Jan 8.


The slime mould Physarum polycephalum has been used in developing unconventional computing devices for in which the slime mould played a role of a sensing, actuating, and computing device. These devices treated the slime mould as an active living substrate, yet it is a self-consistent living creature which evolved over millions of years and occupied most parts of the world, but in any case, that living entity did not own true cognition, just automated biochemical mechanisms. To "rehabilitate" slime mould from the rank of a purely living electronics element to a "creature of thoughts" we are analyzing the cognitive potential of P. polycephalum. We base our theory of minimal cognition of the slime mould on a bottom-up approach, from the biological and biophysical nature of the slime mould and its regulatory systems using frameworks such as Lyon's biogenic cognition, Muller, di Primio-Lengelerś modifiable pathways, Bateson's "patterns that connect" framework, Maturana's autopoietic network, or proto-consciousness and Morgan's Canon.

Keywords: Cognition; Consciousness; Slime mould.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Physarum polycephalum / physiology*