Scientists have led to a discovery that could help engineers develop energy efficient robots. They’ve discovered that snails solve complex decisions by using just two brain cells.
Researchers learned, by attaching electrodes to the brain of freshwater snails, that they used only two neurons when looking for food. Scientists found that snails used controller and motivator neurons to feedback information to each other to decide whether or not to eat.
The first brain cell let it knows if it had discovered food and the second cell decides whether it was hungry. But if no food was in front of the snail, this part of its brain circuitry shuts down, thus saving energy. George Kemenes, a professor at the University of Sussex and who led the research, said "what goes on in our brains when we make complex behavioural 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 optimises complex decision-making tasks. It also shows how this system helps to manage how much energy they use once they have made a decision.
Our findings can help scientists to identify other core neuronal systems which underlie similar decision-making processes. 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."