Three Neurons, Free Will

Modern Slaves Are Predictable, Free Worms Are Not:

Enough of these sad songs about how plutocracy, stupidity, cowardice and greed rule! Worms are smart, and willful! Yes, even worms have Free Will. Too bad for those who thought god controlled everything. Too bad for those who thought animals were machines. Too bad for those controlled by a decerebrating media: they are predictable, whereas worms are not.

That worms have free will is what a study led by Cori Bargmann shows. She is, among other titles, Torsten N. Wiesel Professor, head of the Lulu and Anthony Wang Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior at Rockefeller University (Americans love complicated titles, they aspire to aristocracy; Wiesel a Swedish neurologist, got the Nobel, and was president of Rockefeller).

Brainy Blonde Cori Bargmann “Think Like A Worm”

Brainy Blonde Cori Bargmann “Think Like A Worm”

Researchers can genetically engineered just two, or three neurons in the worm’s head to glow bright green if those neurons respond.

Each neuron in the worm’s brain is assigned a three letter name. By zapping specific neurons with a laser beam, the neuron’s role is deduced from whatever function the worm lost.

So doing, working through the 302 neurons of Caenorhabditis elegans, Cornelia Bargmann discovered that just one neuron control worm hibernation and that worms have a sense of smell, and taste.

In 2011, Bargmann was asked what would be required to understand the worm’s nervous system fully. “You would want to understand a behavior all the way through, and then how the behavior can change. That goal is not unattainable.”

Well, in the end, I believe the behavior of neurons will be found to boil down to Quantum, or even SUB-Quantum physics. So, in the end, there will be no full understanding, just good guesses.

This is indeed what Bargmann discovered in 2015 points towards.

[See below much of the press release from Rockefeller. Also a 2011 NYT’s article on Bargmann’s lab, “In Tiny Worm, Unlocking Secrets of the Brain” may help.]



First, let me philosophize on this recent scientific discovery, which is bound to shatter many old illusions. Philosophy means guess further, or observe, what it all means, or could mean.

Saint Bernard made a rather enlightened observation: “the animal spirit or soul is limited by time – it dies with the body.” Descartes, five centuries later, advanced the grotesque thesis that animals were machines. It was grotesque, because anybody familiar with animals can tell they have free will.

Now neurologists have put Free Will down to as little as three neurons.

Indeed, then, worms are not machines, at least not in the classical sense. Given an input, they behave in unpredictable way, differently from classical machines. That is what the neurologists found.

Do we know of machines behaving that way? Yes. Quantum machines. A Quantum machine is driven by the unpredictable certainty of Quantum Waves.

Are worms then Quantum machines? Yes and no, as Abelard would say. Not necessarily, but probably.

Worms were exposed to a stimulus, a delicious smell. The same smell, always, but it did not give rise to the same reaction. Sometimes worms wormed their way towards the source of the smell, sometimes not.


The worms’ thinking prevent us to predict its behavior. (Worms are smarter than politicians, the latter being thoroughly predictable!)

Plato famously considered his cave, where people were described as watching shadows on a wall. That was supposed to depict the relationship between humans and reality. The image is still popular among philosophers, and so consequences of it trickle down to the masses.

Plato’s picture is interesting, and it sure applies to propaganda from the powerful, and the way it is received by most. But only as such. As a depiction of how the minds of free worms, let alone, free humans, works, it fails utterly.

However, as far as what science says, and thus, what philosophy ought to confirm, buttress, and fly from, Plato’s picture is now completely obsolete, deprived of reality and imagination.

If a network composed of only three neurons can have an internal mind of its own, a cave of its own, we have to review and change, the concept of mind.

So, what is a mind? A mind, even reduced to three neurons, a network of a mind, has its own mind. How could that be?

Minds are worlds, this is why and how they will. Let me explain.

Quantum Physics describes the behavior of Quantum Waves. Quantum Waves sort-of think (one thousand and one naïve philosophers screaming at this point).

What is thinking? Roughly, “looking”, or perceiving (somehow) what is out there, and then conducting a computation (of sorts) taking what is out there in consideration.

This is exactly what Quantum Waves do.

The roundworm, our hero of will, has 2,000 genes controlling its sense of smell (twice what the rats have, and rats have excellent olfaction). Roundworms do not hear, and do not see, they are all about smell.

That world of smell occupy (part of) their 302 neurons, and build up the rest.

Could we made a “classical” model of a three neuron network? Perhaps, in first order. Actually, even classical model, complete with guiding waves, have been partly made, not just on a computer, but experimentally… for Quantum Waves.

However, in the end, Quantum processes will be found to be non-local (because, well, they are). That will ultimately limit classical, guiding waves models of Quantum waves, Black Holes, or even Roundworms three neuron networks.

If a piece of a worm’s mind is a world, entangled with the rest of the galaxy at a distance, philosophy also has to stretch.

Some would say that whether minds are Quantum, or entangled at a distance, will not bring the bacon on the table: this is neither here, nor there, as it has no practical effects. They would be wrong. Indeed, Non-Local philosophical models, Non-local, Quantum models of thinking, will allow to stretch human understanding so far that it may end up meeting reality itself.

Patrice Ayme’


Here is much of the press release from Rockefeller University:

Analysis of worm neurons suggests how a single stimulus can trigger different responses

March 12, 2015 | Science News

Even worms have free will. If offered a delicious smell, for example, a roundworm will usually stop its wandering to investigate the source, but sometimes it won’t. Just as with humans, the same stimulus does not always provoke the same response, even from the same individual. New research at Rockefeller University, published March 12 2015, in Cell, offers a new neurological explanation for this variability, derived by studying a simple three-cell network within the roundworm brain.

Worm brain: All the neurons within this microscopic roundworm are highlighted, with the large cluster at one end representing the brain. Coelomocytes, a type of immune cell, appear as dots along the body.

“We found that the collective state of the three neurons at the exact moment an odor arrives determines the likelihood that the worm will move toward the smell. So, in essence, what the worm is thinking about at the time determines how it responds,” says study author Cori Bargmann, Torsten N. Wiesel Professor, head of the Lulu and Anthony Wang Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior. “It goes to show that nervous systems aren’t passively waiting for signals from outside, they have their own internal patterns of activity that are as important as any external signal when it comes to generating a behavior.”

… By changing the activity of the neurons individually and in combination [researchers] could pinpoint each neuron’s role in generating variability in both brain activity and the behavior associated with it.

The human brain has 86 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses, or connections, among them. The brain of the microscopic roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, by comparison, has 302 neurons and 7,000 synapses. So while the worm’s brain cannot replicate the complexity of the human brain, scientists can use it to address tricky neurological questions that would be nearly impossible to broach in our own brains.

Worms spend their time wandering, looking for decomposing matter to eat. And when they smell it, they usually stop making random turns and travel straight toward the source. This change in behavior is initially triggered by a sensory neuron that perceives the smell and feeds that information to the network the researchers studied. As the worms pick up the alluring fruity smell of isoamyl alcohol, the neurons in the network transition into a low activity state that allows them to approach the odor. But sometimes the neurons remain highly active, and the worm continues to wander around – even though its sensory neuron has detected the odor.

By recording the activity of these neurons, Gordus and colleagues found that there were three persistent states among the three neurons: All were off, all were on, or only one, called AIB, was on. If all were off, then, when the odor signal arrived, they stayed off. If all were on, they often, but not always, shut off. And, in the third and most telling scenario, if AIB alone was active when the odor arrived, everything shut off. “This means that for AIB, context matters. If it’s on alone, its activity will drop when odor is added, but if it’s on with the rest of the network, it has difficulty dropping its activity with the others,” Gordus says.

AIB is the first neuron in the network to receive the signal, which it then relays to the other two network members, known as RIM and AVA; AVA sends out the final instruction to the muscles. When the researchers shut off RIM and AVA individually and together, they found AIB’s response to the odor signal improved. This suggests that input from these two neurons competes with the sensory signal as it feeds down through the network.

Scaled up to account for the more nuanced behaviors of humans, the research may suggest ways in which our brains process competing motivations. “For humans, a hungry state might lead to you walk across the street to a delicious smelling restaurant. However, a competing aversion to the cold might lead you to stay indoors,” he says.

In the worm experiments, the competition between neurons was influenced by the state of the network. There is plenty of evidence suggesting network states have a similar impact on animals with much larger and more complex brains, including us, says Bargmann…“In a mammalian nervous system, millions of neurons are active all the time. Traditionally, we think of them as acting individually, but that is changing. Our understanding has evolved toward seeing important functions in terms of collective activity states within the brain.”




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26 Responses to “Three Neurons, Free Will”

  1. dominique deux Says:

    Elegant and clever, we’re done in!

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      C. Elegans will roundly swallow our remains… We have to exert as much will, worm our way out, elegantly or not. This is why polls show that, in some parts of France as much as 59% of workers want to vote for the National Front (FN). Tsipras, the Greek PM and the head of the French Communist Party just met, agree that High Finance is in full resistance mode to quitting “austerity”.

      It’s elegant to have free will and roundly swallow whatever is in the way, as Eric (Moise) Zemmour would probably say…

  2. itsnobody Says:

    This article is just junk and fantasy…how do the worms have free-will?

    It shows you the irrationality of the fools (atheists) defending their delusional “free-will” belief with unpredictability.

    “Something is unknown therefore free-will exists” – Atheists are ok with that reasoning

    “Something is unknown therefore evolution is false” – Atheists are not ok with that reasoning


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      I guess you are really nobody! LOL. Look at what we have here: An old fashion god believer, completely animated by god (shall I call you god?)

      OK, let me teach something, as a gift. Free will can be technically defined and the scientists doing the experiment actually did so.
      If one put a given input in a machine, one gets always the same output (except it’s a chance machine, so to speak). With worms, it’s not the case.

      But as you apparently believe you are a god machine, and evolution (of intelligence) is not something you believe in, I expect you not to understand…

      • itsnobody Says:

        How foolish (atheistic).

        I wrote articles on my blog sites about how believing in free-will is MORE IRRATIONAL than denying evolution.

        Using your foolish definition of free-will we would conclude that “someone who always has an uncontrollable spontaneous brain disorder” has “free-will”.

        There is no “free-will”.

        Don’t you fools (atheists) know that non-determinism and disorder would falsify evolution?

        I don’t have to pre-approve comments or whatever like you clown atheists do with your anti-science ways BTW LOL.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          I created god, and I can reassure you that she does exactly as I will. And don’t call me foolish too long or too much, you may end up in hell with my associates, and their perverse pastimes…

          • itsnobody Says:

            LOL….if the behavior of 3 neurons being unknown is equivalent to evidence that free-will exists I guess that means evolution has already been falsified!

            The unknowns and issues in evolution are much bigger than something as trivial as 3 neurons being unknown lol…

            Don’t you fools (atheists) know that disorder and non-determinism falsifies evolution? LOL.

            I guess this means always having an uncontrollable spontaneous unpredictable brain disorder means you have free-will!

            I’ve concluded that I was chosen for a special purpose on Earth and that I’m the highest soul on Earth, or one of the highest souls.

            I view atheists as subhuman beings and always cripple and ruin their arguments.

            I believe that I was chosen by God and that other humans are different….

            Of course I also believe that I can experimentally prove my claims to…but I don’t think that the world is ready yet…

  3. gmax Says:

    Wow! It seems a real god nut found this site, the second in a week! Hopefully he is nobody, has no will, and goes away

    • itsnobody Says:

      How foolish (atheistic).

      Can’t you fools (atheists) do anything besides throw personal attacks at me, like refute a statement I made?

      You can’t because atheists are SUBHUMAN beings.

      Don’t the fools understand how disorder and non-determinism refutes evolution?

      The brain is a vital organ, if it behaves too disorderly you would just die, or drop dead…that’s why a bullet to head instantly kills and why certain drugs can kill you!

      This means the brain absolutely MUST behave orderly and deterministic for survival….so no free-will!

      Also non-determinism doesn’t support free-will, because it doesn’t indicate control.

      Atheists are always trying to force and impose their way and their beliefs onto the entire world with their superstitious fictional beliefs like “free-will”:

      General Relativity – the atheist-controlled media has no issue with people questioning and criticizing it

      Quantum Mechanics – the atheist-controlled media has no issue with people questioning and criticizing it

      Evidence telling us there’s no free-will – the atheist-controlled media has no issue with people questioning and criticizing it

      Evolution – the atheist-controlled media has a HUGE issue with people questioning and criticizing it and protects it like a religious belief rather than treating it like another scientific theory

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Please notice the “SUBHUMAN” notion, that most readers may be unfamiliar with, now that the Nazis have left the scene. Hence the link, here explicit, between theism, and extermination! How much worse can it get? I have long advocated that link between theism and extermination, thus I am happy with itsnobody’s hate, and racist speech.

        Does hatred have free will? Not really: it’s a force that goes, propelled by its own foaming hormones….

        • itsnobody Says:

          What an unbelievably foolish (atheistic) thing to say?

          You fools (atheists) have no issue with hate speech against Muslims and others yet you have an issue with me labeling atheists as subhuman beings? How laughable.

          Why do you keep changing the subject away for? How does this article indicate that free-will exists? It doesn’t.

  4. gmax Says:

    Patrice: why do you tolerate that racist god crazed guy full of hatred on the site? This nobody? To show us the madness “believers” are prone to?

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Yes, in part. And also the power of finding exactly what delusions feed hatred, and whether hatred survives an assault against the delusions which feed.

    • itsnobody Says:

      Foolish (atheistic).

      It’s up to Theists to teach the fools (atheists) about real science, logic, and reasoning.

      A bunch of fools (atheists) can’t refute any statement that I made so they just keep changing the subject to throwing personal attacks and other anti-science/atheist tactics.

      Now to explain the main issue with this foolish (atheistic) article:
      – Not being able to predict doesn’t indicate control or free-will: It’s just like saying “someone has an uncontrollable spontaneous brain disorder and we can’t predict how some of their neurons behave therefore they have free-will”…but the problem with this is not being able to predict something doesn’t mean that we can control anything or have free-will….

      Predicting the exact precise behavior of the neurons may be impossible but that doesn’t mean that the worms can control the behavior of their neurons or that they have free-will.

      Also non-determinism and disorder falsifies evolution yet the atheist-controlled media has no issue with people questioning the evidence on free-will but has an issue with people questioning evolution – a crackpot science fiction idea.

      It shows you how atheists are always trying to force and impose their way and their beliefs onto the entire world…if a Professor were to criticize evolution in the same way that Professors criticize free-will they would get fired and kicked out.

      I don’t see any Professors getting fired for teaching that free-will exists do you? So why should Professors get fired for criticizing evolution?

      The reason is simple…the media is well-controlled by atheists and atheists are always trying to force their way and their beliefs onto the world, they really care about forcing evolution onto the world because it promotes atheist ideology but don’t care about forcing the no free-will belief because “The Problem of Free-will” argument is usually used against religion.

      79% of evolutionary biologists believe in free-will…this proves that the reason why biologists believe in evolution has nothing to do with evidence.

      If you’re going strictly by evidence you would be much more certain that free-will is non-existent than you would be that evolution is true because the scientific evidence telling us that there’s no free-will is much more concrete than the evidence supporting evolution.

      There aren’t any evolutionary biologists that value evidence…the reason why they believe in evolution is because they are strongly biased towards evolution and really want to believe it, not because of evidence, they can care less about evidence.

      I had this video on YouTube called “Atheists/Racists are trying to take over” but some atheists cried and got it removed for hate speech…holocaust hoax videos, pro-Nazi videos, and pro-racist videos aren’t subjectively interpreted as hate speech by the atheist YouTube moderators since the media is so well-controlled by atheists, always trying to force and impose their way and their beliefs onto the entire world.

      – Larry Darby former state director of the popular atheist group “American Atheists” is a holocaust denier
      – Alex Linder, owner and operator of the popular White Nationalist Nazi forum VNN is an atheist
      – Tom Metzger founder of the Neo-Nazi group White Aryan Resistance is an atheist

      100% of all modern day atheist countries are extremely racist and nationalist like Sweden, Denmark, Latvia, etc…they are terrible people, the worst of all subhuman beings.

      There’s a big difference between correlation and causation, the atheist/agnostic/non-religious population directly causes racism and nationalism since there aren’t any mainstream Christian denominations that accept White Nationalism…right now in the religious countries the Nationalists have to fight off the religious people, but in the atheist countries Nationalists don’t have to fight off anyone since they are any atheists in opposition to racism and nationalism.

      I view atheists as subhuman beings and hope that they die. Atheists are not really like human beings to me, it’s just like a dog, a cat, or some other domestic animal.

      It’s the free market, free speech, free society!

      Support socialism, support a Whites-only type of society!

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Good luck god with escaping the mental asylum! ;-)!

        • itsnobody Says:

          That’s the problem with you people.

          You said in your other articles you wanted to exterminate Muslims and don’t interpret that as hate speech I said that view atheists as subhuman beings and hope that they die, I don’t interpret it as hateful.

          An atheist to me is just like a dog, cat, or some other domestic animal.

          So what’s wrong with me saying that? It’s free speech.

          If you’re an atheist reading this and tomorrow you died off I would be happy.

          People have to realize that the atheist population directly causes White Nationalism and Nazism to rise.

          It’s already happened in 100% of all modern day atheist countries like Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark, etc…they are terrible people, the most disgusting in the world.

          So what’s wrong with it? It’s free speech.

          • Patrice Ayme Says:

            I never said that I wanted to “exterminate Muslims”: it’s not even legal to say so, and, moreover, I had/have lots of “Muslim” friends. I don’t even know what “Muslim” means (not being god).

            It seems that you project you exterminationist tendencies on others…

            You seem to still been a bit tense, although you do not talk as you did, as if you were god. Somebody like you (?), trained by the Islamist State, a student, killed and wounded 80 people in Tunisia, in just seven minutes. That means he was perfectly trained, and the Islamist State indeed showed plenty of pictures of his training…

            What’s wrong? That you project on others the will to exterminate. A will they do not have, but gives you the opportunity to be insane.

            • itsnobody Says:

              Dumb and dense as usual.

              I asked you why you interpret it as hate speech and you said it projects the will to exterminate but your posts clearly project the will to exterminate Muslims and you have no issue with hate speech against Muslims.

              I view atheists as SUBHUMAN beings and I hope that they DIE.

              That’s not hateful to me, just like hoping that Nazis or White Nationalists die, what’s wrong with it?

              Come come view an atheist as subhuman!

              What’s wrong with that, it’s free speech?

              You keep cherry-picking incidences where Muslims have killed people but ignore the fact that the European countries with the highest percentage of Muslims have the lowest murder rates in the ENTIRE world…lower than all 50 US states and every country’s murder rate in the world ROFL…so where’s the violence?

              The European countries with the highest murder rates have the lowest percentage of Muslims (near 0%) and a near 0% non-white population as well…they have the purest European stock, it’s Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, lol.

              I had a friend from Estonia, his parents were murdered there when he was 5-years-old.

              There’s more than 7 billion people in the world whenever Muslims kill it’s looped around in the media and whenever non-Muslims kill it usually makes a blip in the media and that’s it.

              The only time Norway’s murder rate went up significantly is in 2011 when the White non-Muslim guy had killed 77 people, lol.

              Once the media found out that he was White and non-Muslim the story turned into “who cares there’s crazy people”.

              I view both Muslim and non-Muslim violence as an issue, not only Muslim-related violence.

              North Korea is an official atheist state they KILL people for being religious which I know you agree with, they also have a 0% Muslim population and a higher murder rate than almost every Muslim country.

              North Korea had gunned down and killed 80 people for possessing Bibles, which atheists are strongly in agreement with.

              The Batman movie theater was an atheist-agnostic he killed 12 people and wounded more than 50.

              It’s the same attitude you and your other low-life atheists friends have, you’re allowed to hate any other group except for atheists who are protected from everything.

              Why are atheists protected for?

              It’s because you don’t support free speech, you support only speech that you personally agree with.

              You defended the cartoons that insulted Muslims so why do you have an issue with people insulting and ridiculing atheists?

              It’s because you’re a nasty person with a nasty attitude, always trying to force and impose only the speech you personally agree with.

              It’s that same nasty attitude your atheist kind and type have.

              If you believe that your posts against Muslims is protected by free speech then you should also view what I say about atheists as part of free speech.

              CASE CLOSED.

            • Patrice Ayme Says:

              You are hateful, yet, ridiculous. I am an atheist, thank god. Thank dog, I have a sense of humor, and atheist cartoons are welcome, please send some links of atheist cartoons over, I will publish them, if funny enough.

  5. MATH AS NEUROLOGY, NEUROLOGY AS PHYSICS | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] Einstein had no proof whatsoever that”thought is independent of experience”. All what a brain does is to experience and deduct. It starts in the womb. It happens even in an isolated brain. Even a mini brain growing in a vat, experiences (some) aspects of the world (gravity, vibrations). Even a network of three neurons experiences a sort of inner world unpredictable to an observer: […]

  6. NON-DNA Genes | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] modified versions of the worm C. Elegans, the one with Free Will, had three different centriole proteins tagged with a fluorescent signal. Tagged male worms were […]

  7. I Feel, Therefore I Think | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] Making fun of “I think, therefore I am” dates back at least to Wittgenstein. However, my point is serious. Whereas robots can walk, robots do NOT have sensations. Worms do. So worms feel, and decide what to feel: they are unpredictable, as I pointed out in “Three Neurons, Free Will“. […]

  8. Jean Pierre De Vent Says:

    those three neurons are found to be non-deterministic, non dependable on other neurones in a certain state ? There is no coupling from other sources which determines their condition. So one could think there must be some random generator or perhaps a chaotic process going on that provides unpredictable behaviour..But I guess it’s already proven that true randomness is not what we see. And completely chaotic behaviour is also not very useful. So I understand it truly gives the impression the worm each time decides what to do. I understand the objections here but it’s also true I guess that from a mathematical/ computer science definition that this kind of behaviour can be called “free will” without admitting at the same time that the worm has consciousness and is choosing like we do.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hello Jean Pierre, and welcome! Consciousness and free will have been pondered…. All the way down to the mysterious choices of tiny particles in Quantum Physics: how do they know, how do they chose, etc.?
      We found the atoms of the Greeks, and it turns out they are made of what we don’t understand much… Although what we understand is already fantastic (in all sense of the term…)

      Anyway, tomorrow article is going to be related to somewhat similar scientific subtleties and Henri Poincare’s discovery of E = mcc (erroneously attributed to Einstein).

      We are now looking for the atoms of consciousness, and Quantum is their name…

  9. Paul Handover Says:

    Very interesting information and so pleased I got to read it. Well done!

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Glad you liked it. I had forgotten about it completely, but then, reading YOUR text, I thought:’Hmmm… didn’t I write something on free will?” So I google search, and voila! No critique?

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