Snails are not traditionally known for quick thinking, but new research shows they can make complex decisions using just two brain cells in that could help engineers design more efficient robots. Scientists at the University of Sussex attached electrodes to the of freshwater snails as they searched for lettuce. They found that just one cell was used by the mollusk to tell if it was or not, while another let it know when food was present. Food-searching is an example of goal-directed behavior, during which an animal must integrate information about both its external environment and internal state while using as little energy as possible. Lead researcher Professor George Kemenes, said: “This will eventually help us design the “brains” of robots based on the principle of using the fewest possible components necessary to perform complex tasks. “What goes on in our brains when we make complex behavioral decisions and carry them out is poorly understood. “Our study reveals for the first time how just two neurons can create a mechanism in an animal’s brain which drives and optimizes complex decision-making tasks.
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