Green Fingers I Wish

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Flies have free will

Flies have free will, according to scientists

Next time that fly is buzzing around your head, don't think it's just flying about at random to annoy you.

In fact it knows exactly where it is going and what it is doing.

This is because flies have free will, experts have found.

Variable behaviour in insects has generally been put down to random activity in the brain.

But an international study of fruit flies has shown that their actions appear to be spontaneous.

Dr George Sugihara, of the University of California in San Diego, said: 'The results of our analysis indicate a mechanism which might be common to many other animals and could form the biological foundation for what we experience as free will.'

Scientists tethered fruit flies in white surroundings for the study and recorded their turning behaviour.

The flies received no visual cues from what was around them. Analysis of their movements found they were far from random.

The research, reported in the online journal PLoS ONE, could lead to the development of robots with a similar capacity for spontaneous, nonrandom behaviour.

It could also help combat disorders that affect human behaviour, such as depression, schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder.


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