Sentences may be up to 50 “words,” but the core fungal lexicon is likely in the range of 15 to 20.
Some argue that talking to plants will help promote their health and growth. But U.K. researchers suggest fungi may be fine communicating on its own since it may have a language with “word” lengths that are similar to those of human languages.
Psilocybin mushrooms are fast becoming a subject for their potential health and therapeutic benefits and are likely organisms that would spark some pretty interesting conversations.
The idea behind the current study, however, is that electrical signals of the fungi are seemingly sent to one another, according to The Guardian.
The paper concludes that some fungi use electrical impulses to share and process information internally, notes the Smithsonian Magazine. When signal activity spikes, the publication explains, this creates intricate patterns that researchers suggest may function in the same way as words in human speech.
Speculating that “fungal electrical activity is a manifestation of the information communicated between distant parts of the fungal colonies,” the paper notes, researchers recorded extracellular electrical activity — that is, recordings of electrical potentials produced by a cell—of the four fungi species.
Investigators tried “to uncover key linguistic phenomena of the proposed fungal language,” investigators write. They discovered that “distributions of lengths of spike trains, measured in a number of spikes, follow the distribution of word lengths in human languages.”
Indeed, the size of the fungal lexicon can be as much as 50 words, although “the core lexicon of most frequently used words does not exceed 15 to 20 words,” investigators write.
Per The Guardian, “previous research has suggested that fungi conduct electrical impulses through long, underground filamentous structures called hyphae, similar to how nerve cells transmit information in humans.”
Professor Andrew Adamatzky of the University of the West of England, acknowledged it is not known if a direct relationship exists between spiking patterns in fungi and human speech.
“On the other hand, there are many similarities in information processing in living substrates of different classes, families and species,” Adamatzky told The Guardian.
The reasons for these waves of electrical activity may be to maintain the fungi’s integrity or “to report newly discovered sources of attractants and repellants to other parts of their mycelia,” the publication quotes him as saying.
More study needs to be done, however, to flesh out whether or not the fungi “language” is real.
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