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Consciousness & Reality Colloquium - Bioelectricity: The Body's Cognitive Glue

Thursday, April 18, 2024
10:00am to 11:00am
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Consciousness & Reality Colloquium Series 2023-24

Bioelectricity: The Body's Cognitive Glue

Michael Levin

Professor of Biology and Biomedical Engineering, Tufts University
Director of the Allen Discovery Center, Tufts University

Many theories of consciousness postulate specific features of the nervous system that enable it to support minds. These features also exist in other types of biological cells, which are a kind of agential material, that harness bioelectricity: a biophysical modality that evolution was using as cognitive glue from the time of bacterial biofilms. Leveraging molecular tools, to read and write the bioelectric prepattern information in non-neural tissues, we have understood how cells merge into networks, resulting in a kind of intelligence to solve novel problems, form memories, and make decisions. These tools also enabled us to synthesize a novel life form: biobot. I will conclude with implications for consciousness and a hope for ethical synthbiosis with highly diverse beings of novel composition and provenance.

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This lecture will be accessible to an interdisciplinary audience. Caltech, Stanford and MIT members from all divisions are welcome to join. Select questions from the Q&A window will be answered after the lecture.


The Consciousness & Reality colloquium series promotes interdisciplinary investigations on mind, cognition, consciousness, and the nature of reality.

For more information, please contact Kunal Mooley by email at [email protected].