Southgate Institute of Health, Society and Equity, Flinders University AUSTRALIA
The talk will introduce the emerging research program of basal cognition, the rationale behind it, why it is necessary now, and provide two case studies, both of which have implications for decision making. The discovery and further investigation of bioelectrical activity in the bacterium Bacillus subtilis is a prime example of how the basal cognition approach can work. The case study of valence, which also relies on B. subtilis, shows how a theoretical construct in the affective sciences can be applied, with solid biological justification, to simple organisms, even if emotion researchers generally believe that a nervous system, and possibly a brain, is necessary for application of the concept. It is hard to see how decisions can be made at all without valence, an organism’s attraction or repulsion to a state of affairs based on an assessment of advantage or harm to its functioning.