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Commun Integr Biol. 2012 Jan 1;5(1):3-11.

Social biases determine spatiotemporal sparseness of ciliate mating heuristics.

Abstract

Ciliates become highly social, even displaying animal-like qualities, in the joint presence of aroused conspecifics and nonself mating pheromones. Pheromone detection putatively helps trigger instinctual and learned courtship and dominance displays from which social judgments are made about the availability, compatibility, and fitness representativeness or likelihood of prospective mates and rivals. In earlier studies, I demonstrated the heterotrich Spirostomum ambiguum improves mating competence by effecting preconjugal strategies and inferences in mock social trials via behavioral heuristics built from Hebbian-like associative learning. Heuristics embody serial patterns of socially relevant action that evolve into ordered, topologically invariant computational networks supporting intra- and intermate selection. S. ambiguum employs heuristics to acquire, store, plan, compare, modify, select, and execute sets of mating propaganda. One major adaptive constraint over formation and use of heuristics involves a ciliate's initial subjective bias, responsiveness, or preparedness, as defined by Stevens' Law of subjective stimulus intensity, for perceiving the meaningfulness of mechanical pressures accompanying cell-cell contacts and additional perimating events. This bias controls durations and valences of nonassociative learning, search rates for appropriate mating strategies, potential net reproductive payoffs, levels of social honesty and deception, successful error diagnosis and correction of mating signals, use of insight or analysis to solve mating dilemmas, bioenergetics expenditures, and governance of mating decisions by classical or quantum statistical mechanics. I now report this same social bias also differentially affects the spatiotemporal sparseness, as measured with metric entropy, of ciliate heuristics. Sparseness plays an important role in neural systems through optimizing the specificity, efficiency, and capacity of memory representations. The present findings indicate sparseness performs a similar function in single aneural cells by tuning the size and density of encoded computational architectures useful for decision making in social contexts.

KEYWORDS:

decision making; learning and memory; mate selection; microbes; network attachment rules; primitive intelligences; protozoa; sensorimotor encoding and representation; social perception and logic; strategy formation

PMID:
22482001
[PubMed]
PMCID:
PMC3291309
Free PMC Article
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