Not so clever, are you?

September 15, 2006

Human cells are intelligent, sentient organisms that talk to each other, according to new research that shatters prevailing scientific thought and could spark a revolution in biology.

At present, scientists believe the brain controls everything in the body directly or indirectly. But Brian Ford, biologist, broadcaster and visiting professor at Leicester University, argues that the body's cells are autonomous.

He said: "Most of what happens in the body is determined by the cell community. The brain neither has knowledge of what is going on nor any control over it."

Rather than the brain controlling what happens, each cell is an ingenious entity in its own right. "This flies in the face of everything people believe, but when anyone sees it they think it makes extraordinary sense," Professor Ford told The Times Higher .

"The building of homes by amoebae is a clear example of ingenuity. We have not the least knowledge of how any of the detection, collection, assembly and gluing together of components can be done by a single cell. But an amoeba has enough intelligence to find food and adapt to its surroundings."

Professor Ford said that human brain neurons actually process data rather than just pass on information. "The main lesson of this is that the brain's power must be countless billions of times more complex than anyone has postulated in the past. But I'm not suggesting each cell has a cognitive brain."

He has recorded nerve cells "speaking" to each other. At human frequency level, the noise they make is similar to the sound of cooing sea birds.

His research paper features in the latest issue of The Biologist , www.iob.org .

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