TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

How close are the mycelium and the brain related?

I'd like to clarify before I start that I am just a student, so I don't know too much about any of the topics I want to discuss and that I am not an english native so my vocabulary is pretty limited.
That being said; the question came up when, doing some research about the mycelium of psylocibe mushrooms and its active principles, I started reading about the similarities between the human brain's structure and the mycelium's structure. It seems like the neurons's connections are suspiciously alike to the mycelium's connections. So I thought: aren't psilocybin and psilocine neurotransmitters? Is it possible that the mycelium works as the brain does? These substances aren't like the THC in the marihuana, these substances are present not only in the mushrooms but within the whole individual. This could mean that the mycelium, at least in the 'magic mushrooms' (but I'm sure there are similar compunds in the other kinds of mycelium), is, being simplistic, a brain without a body; a brain that uses neurotransmitters as ours and has the same structure. That would explain, evolutionarily, how animals got their brain (symbiosis). But, if we go further with this hypothesis, it's said that the correlation between the brain mass and the body mass in animals determine the intelligence of a species. So when we talk about a growing organism, formed only by interconnected cells just like the neurons, that can reach gigantic proportions (hectares) and working with neurotransmitters perfectly usable by the human (or any other animal) brain, we could be talking about intelligent organisms, even if we're just talking about potential. Maybe it is a kind of intelligence uncomprehensible to us, but that is also a question: How would that work? Could it form new connections by learning as we do? All of this may sounds just a little unreal, but again, I'm not an expert at all, that's why I'm asking.

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Sep 8 2013: one of the other components in the brains of animals are fat cells which store energy. i cannot say whether there is a similar type of cell structure in the mycelia of fungi, but it is an interesting idea. i believe terrence mckenna had suggested something similar in one of his books.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.