Models of Cytoskeletal Computing

Cooperative, collective effects of dynamic protein conformational states are a likely substrate for biological intelligence ranging from cytoplasmic probing to human consciousness. The activities, functions, and structures of microtubules and other cytoskeletal components appear suited to information processing and have led at least a dozen author groups to publish theoretical models of rudimentary cognition within MT and the cytoskeleton. The concepts range from passive MT signal transduction, to descriptive patterns among MT subunit states, to dynamic cooperative "automaton" effects among coherent oscillations of centrioles and the cytoskeleton, to cytoplasmic/cytoskeletal "sol-gel field" effects utilizing holographic imagery. If correct, these proposals could explain many aspects of information representation and dynamic organization in biological systems. Hopeful metaphors, these models are non-exclusive and may be overlapping and complementary.

Cytoskeletal information processing would require some mechanism of cooperativity, long range order, coherence, and/or energy transfer among cytoskeletal components and their subunits. Such possible mechanisms were discussed in the previous chapter. Specific evidence which supports transfer of energy and information within microtubules will be discussed here followed by thirteen models of cytoskeletal information processing.

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