Intelligence Without Brains

  • Published on: 09 November 2019
  • How much brain do you need to be smart? Bees and ants perform marvels as colonies, though each insect has barely any brain. And plants—with no brain at all—exhibit behaviors that, by any definition, count as intelligent. Brace yourself for a mind-bending exploration of plants that learn new behaviors and warn their brainless fellows of danger; vines that compete with each other; molds that solve puzzles; and trees that communicate and cooperate through a ‘wood-wide web’ of microscopic mycological fibers. Perhaps the real question is, are we smart enough to appreciate the vast range of intelligence that surrounds us?

    PARTICIPANTS: Monica Gagliano, Simon Garnier, Thomas Horton, Naomi Leonard, Mark Moffett

    MODERATOR: Natalie Angier


    0:00 - Program introduction
    0:57 - Opening film on the study of plant intelligence
    3:45 - Panelist introductions
    5:25 - Plant bio-acoustics
    12:55 - Slime mold intelligence
    19:40 - Interaction between fungi and trees
    30:04 - Plant memory and learning
    44:30 - Transmission of memory in slime molds
    48:35 - Collective intelligence
    50:22 - Leaf-cutter ant intelligence
    59:04 - Swarm behavior
    1:06:04 - Applying swarm intelligence to robotics
    1:13:05 - Moving beyond the neuronal model of intelligence
    1:16:15 - Consciousness
    1:18:40 - Ethics of our interaction with plants and animals
    1:23:05 - Environmental effects on collaboration

    - Produced by Micah Fink
    - Associate Produced by Matt Carlstrom
    - Opening film produced / edited by Vin Liota
    - Music provided by APM
    - Additional images and footage provided by: Getty Images, Shutterstock, Videoblocks
    - Recorded at New York University

    The Big Ideas Series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.

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  • Runtime : 1:29:12
  • Intelligence Without Brains exploration of plants Monica Gagliano Simon Garnier Thomas Horton Naomi Leonard Mark Moffett Natalie Angier Plant bio-acoustics Slime mold intelligence Plant memory Plant learning Collective intelligence Leafcutter ant Consciousness beyond the neuronal model of intelligence Ethics with plants and animals Environmental effects on collaboration best science talks New York City World Science Festival 2019


  • Berni V
    Berni V   21 hours ago

    This is a fascinating discussion. All the guests were interesting and knowledgeable. The subject matter was of particular interest to me as a vegan. Thank you for the video.🌱

  • Elyin Scott
    Elyin Scott   1 days ago

    Plants provide all the food for us and we are still asking if they are intelligent?

  • Michel Di Sclafani
    Michel Di Sclafani   1 days ago

    Matter possess intelligence. Using the form matter creates life like plants animals etc.

  • 5ginuk
    5ginuk   1 days ago

    The first thing Christianity punished was the use of plants for knowledge.

  • fred flintstoner
    fred flintstoner   2 days ago

    Mrs Richards: "I paid for a room with a view !" Basil: (pointing to the lovely view) "That is Torquay, Madam." Mrs Richards: "It's not good enough!" Basil: "May I ask what you were expecting to see out of a Torquay hotel bedroom window? Sydney Opera House, perhaps? the Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically past?..." Mrs Richards: "Don't be silly! I expect to be able to see the sea!" Basil: "You can see the sea, it's over there between the land and the sky." Mrs Richards: "I'm not satisfied. But I shall stay. But I expect a reduction." Basil: "Why?! Because Krakatoa's not erupting at the moment ?

  • agnon777
    agnon777   2 days ago

    מתוך "שירת העשבים", רבי נחמן מברסלב:...דע לך שכל עשב ועשב יש לו שירה מיוחדת משלו ומשירת העשבים נעשה ניגון של רועה... .

  • Michael Angztek
    Michael Angztek   2 days ago

    What about the "zombie fungus"?Found controlling ants in the rainforest.

  • Jeff T
    Jeff T   3 days ago

    The Baxter Effect was not Pseudoscience!!! He ran many successful tests with plants hooked up to lie detector machines and in one particular test that was successfully conducted by several scientists around the world, the electrical response from the plant was off the charts, as if an earthquake had just happened, every time prior to such time when a person was about to harm the plant by burning it. There were several instances when the plant would react similarly as soon as the mean person would begin thinking about harming the plant!Just because your clown-ass doesn't understand how or why this phenomenon happens, this doesn't mean it's Pseudoscience by any stretch, because it is very real and does in fact exist.

  • Mephisto Underwood
    Mephisto Underwood   3 days ago

    Tom and I would get along just fine. I use that same kind of humor.

  • UBER 3 aka Uber3
    UBER 3 aka Uber3   3 days ago

    The video quality is Amazing!! The best I've seen anywhere. 🥰 💞 👌

  • Daniel Martin
    Daniel Martin   3 days ago

    If you think about it, plants intelligence is more superior than humans and have lived longer than humans. Humans don’t scale near the longevity of plants and are far superior to us.

  • Gloria A A
    Gloria A A   3 days ago

    The day man is humble enough to accept the universal “consciousness” that contains all memory, all information, all that is… we will understand so many things about us and the universe…our capacities and natures wisdom

  • Botox Pig
    Botox Pig   4 days ago

    How can we ever communicate with aliens when we cannot understand and communicate with plants, mushrooms, fungi. I say, no chance.

  • Gunzmith Dragonkind
    Gunzmith Dragonkind   4 days ago

    shouldnt it be "brains without intelligence" why humans are about to exterminate them selves.

  • Beau Tye
    Beau Tye   5 days ago

    Monica Gagliano!! Could you do a similar experiment where you introduce a new plant into the situation of falling (or something similar) to see if the experienced plant can calm down or even warn the new plant of the situation? I was thinking about this when introducing plants into my garden and hoping the old plants would help the new plants understand the environment.

  • medronhos
    medronhos   6 days ago

    The Vedas, ancient Indian scriptures, describe 16 dimensions of the mind, regrouped in 4 kinds; the first kind is the only one we currently recognize and is referred to as "Buddhi"

  • Kim Praschma
    Kim Praschma   1 weeks ago

    🤣 a year later doing the same. Loved the secret life of plants by the way.

  • Connie Pressley
    Connie Pressley   1 weeks ago

    This is very interesting. God choose the Word, the language. In the Bible He says look to the ants. I think each of you made reference to God. I'm wondering if you realized it? I correlate the number 7 to God.

  • SwallowSomeTruth🤢
    SwallowSomeTruth🤢   1 weeks ago

    I knew this guy had to be from The Bay, wouldn't have thought he was wit The Hyphy Movement though.

  • Jake Fisher
    Jake Fisher   1 weeks ago

    Why is this not in the mind and brain playlist?

  • Joel Sullivan
    Joel Sullivan   3 weeks ago

    The first woman and guy to talk are crushing so hard on each other it’s sweet.. look, even brilliant people get twiterpated 🥰

  • John Travolta
    John Travolta   3 weeks ago

    Something needs to be said about everything that was just said here. Science can be amazing, but some questions are just unanswered. So, should we stop looking for questions that can't be answered? But then, it would imply that we should stop using the scientific method to answer specifics. We don't use science to prove something, we use science to test the theory that was created by the use of the method that was used previously to create the theory in the first place. In my opinion, these scientists are just throwing things out to see what happens.

  • robert oakley
    robert oakley   4 weeks ago

    Our cells photosynthesis / our nervous system needs calcium threads and thousands of volts / scaler electricity/ our gut our second brain is full of bacteria/plants are full of bacteria .

  • Joe Doe
    Joe Doe   1 months ago

    Monica transmit great energy,she's very beautiful, greetings from Puerto Rico we have the plant that close is leafs ,very famous with kids in PR ,we call it ,morivivi!! But other countries call it different names 🇵🇷 ☀️🌊🏖️🌅🌴🌫️🌧️

  • KiDpOkEr
    KiDpOkEr   1 months ago

    So. Are you a plant within an environnent or a animal. Do people see you or dont they?

  • Dodie Angeltarot
    Dodie Angeltarot   1 months ago

    our skin is cellulose the same material as plant skin so to speak

  • Paul Stark
    Paul Stark   1 months ago

    Us humans are all connected with what's around us. Be gentle. Even loose refuse. All was created by The All Mighty, GOD. This is excellent

  • Itu Tris
    Itu Tris   1 months ago


  • Gregor Samsa
    Gregor Samsa   1 months ago

    The chmistry between first and 2nd profs fits!

  • Psilocybe Cubensis
    Psilocybe Cubensis   1 months ago

    People say vegans are hypocrites for eating plants "because the feel pain". Well, even if that is true, what to the animals eat? A cow for example will eat magnitudes more plant calories than it produces in meat calories. So Not only are they murdering the cow.. the cow "murders" far more plants than I ever could eating my soy beans directly.. Flawed logic but they think they are smart and think they have a "gotcha" argument. lol