Best Title Ever?

Environmental memory boosts group formation of clueless individuals


The formation of groups of interacting individuals improves performance and fitness in many decentralised systems, from micro-organisms to social insects, from robotic swarms to artificial intelligence algorithms. Often, group formation and high-level coordination in these systems emerge from individuals with limited information-processing capabilities implementing low-level rules of communication to signal to each other. Here, we show that, even in a community of clueless individuals incapable of processing information and communicating, a dynamic environment can coordinate group formation by transiently storing memory of the earlier passage of individuals. Our results identify a new mechanism of indirect coordination via shared memory that is primarily promoted and reinforced by dynamic environmental factors, thus overshadowing the need for any form of explicit signalling between individuals. We expect this pathway to group formation to be relevant for understanding and controlling self-organisation and collective decision making in both living and artificial active matter in real-life environments.

After seeing the title I couldn’t NOT post this. :grin:


So I read a little farther into it. I think the title is fairly clever in that it gets people to read the abstract of what is, in fact, a pretty well studied thing. As they say, even colloidal particles can show some coordinated behaviors when simple rules are applied.

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I was looking for a definition of “clueless” and did find it in the Results section:

Because of their colloidal nature, these self-motile individuals are clueless in the sense that they have no sensing or information-processing capabilities and interact with each other through simple physical interaction rules…

Because I cannot physically resist doing otherwise, I went looking for ‘clueless’ in PubMed and found a mitochondrial gene/protein first described in flies and linked to (you guessed it… unless you’re… you know… CLUELESS) learning/memory. Also found it in a “significance statement” in a paper in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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