One of the most remarkable abilities that plants have is the ability to adapt and respond to any environmental factors they face. This property led some scientists to believe that plants might have conscious awareness. However, a recent study argues against this theory, claiming plants can not possess consciousness similar to humans. Plants do not have a brain or a central nervous system, so how could they have conscious awareness?
However, it should not be ruled out that they could have some form of intelligence. They often exhibit surprising abilities, like computation, communication, mobilizing defenses, and many more.
Plant neurobiologists claim that plants do have a type of consciousness. Monica Gagliano, an evolutionary ecologist, conducted several experiments to prove this theory, suggesting that plants have capacities such as habituation and classical conditioning. A new study published a few days ago in Trend in Plant Science claims the contrary. Lincoln Taiz, the lead author of the paper, argues that there is no way plants are conscious.
Taiz put together a team of researchers to help him achieve his goal. To bring more evidence to light to support his view, Taiz turned to previous work published by neuroscientist Todd Feinberg and evolutionary biologist Jon Mallatt.
New Study Claims Plants Do Not Possess Conscious Awareness
Feinberg and Mallatt described the specific neurological requirements for subjective awareness. They concluded that vertebrates, arthropods, and cephalopods are capable of conscious awareness since they possess the basic neurological mechanisms required. Taiz built upon their work, claiming that plants lack these mechanisms.
During an interview with Gizmodo, Taiz said: “Feinberg and Mallat have advanced our understanding of the biological basis of consciousness with studies that suggest that in animals, at least, consciousness did not evolve with the first appearance of a nervous system, but with the evolution of a brain with a threshold level of functional specialization and complexity.
Such threshold brains, according to their criteria, are found only in the vertebrates, arthropods, and cephalopods. Of course, there are still many unanswered questions, but the point we make in the article is that Feinberg and Mallat’s analysis make consciousness in plants highly unlikely. It would take ‘extraordinary evidence,’ to use [Carl] Sagan’s phrase, to salvage their hypothesis.”
According to what Taiz’s team of researchers point out, plants’ apparent intelligence is only based on their genetically programmed behaviors, not on conscience. Even more, they highlight that no evidence suggests plants have evolved mental faculties.