16/5/17 PNAS + PNAS cover on slime mold behavior published

We have discovered the mechanism underlying the slime mold’s (Physarum polycephalum) complex behavior, work just published in the recent issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). Our finding: Despite lacking a nervous system, a simple feedback allows the network-forming slime mold to find the shortest path through a maze. The slime mold sends information in the form of signaling molecules throughout its network of veins. Signaling molecules are transported by flowing fluids and cause fluid flow to increase. This positive feedback loop, on the one hand, speeds up information transfer, but at the same time fosters the growth of veins, precisely those that are tracing the shortest path between stimuli. With their project the scientists illuminate the mystery behind the ‘intelligent’ slime mold. We hope that the feedback mechanism found in nature may in future help develop artificial systems permitting self-organizing adaptation.