Metabolism-based behavioral reactions to different toxins

Simulated bacteria performing metabolism based chemotaxis in response to toxin and resource gradients. Each bacteria traces a path with a different hue. The large circle indicates the resource gradient, and the three smaller circles indicate the location of three different toxins, each of which affects the simulated metabolism in different ways. This is a visualisation from unpublished work.

Hexagonal autopoiesis
A recreation of the 1974 cellular automaton model of autopoiesis, but on a hexagonal lattice.
Sensorless sensitivity to implicit viability conditions

A video of a computational model of metabolism based behavior. The simulated protocell is sensitive not directly to environmental phenomena but rather to the effect of the environmental phenomena on an aspect of its autopoiesis (self-construction). This abstract simulated protocell-like organism requires either both the red & blue resource to produce its constituents, or only the green. A coupling between the production of its components and its mechanism of motion causes it to move toward whatever area maximises its self production. In this run, this behavior is initially an oscillating motion between the sources of red and blue resource before a transition to the green resource and then a return to the red & blue resources after they have grown in the absence of the agent.

Egbert, M., Di Paolo, E. A. and Barandiaran, X. (2009) Chemo-ethology of an Adaptive Protocell: Sensorless sensitivity to implicit viability conditions in Proceedings of the Tenth European Conference on Artificial Life, ECAL09, Budapest, September 13-16, 2009, Springer Verlag.

Integration of multiple environmental influences

As described in our paper, metabolism-based behaviour allows an organism to integrate a variety of simultaneous environmental influences into an appropriate response. In this simulation, the bacteria need a combination of the red and green resources, but the blue gradient is a toxin. Notice that the bacteria accrue in an area around the toxin, where these three factors are most conducive to the bacteria's survival.

Egbert MD, Barandiaran XE, Di Paolo EA. A Minimal Model of Metabolism-Based Chemotaxis. PLoS Computational Biology. 2010;6(12):e1001004.

Habit-based regulation of essential variables

These are videos demonstrating the control and experimental conditions described in my paper wil Lola Cañamero, Habit-based Regulation of Essential Variables, where I investigated how habits can be modelled as self-maintaining dissipative sensorimotor structures. The model of habits was first introduced the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience paper I wrote with help from Xabier Barandiaran, Modelling habits as self-sustaining patterns of sensorimotor behavior.


Simulated bacteria performing metabolism based chemotaxis in response to two different environments. In the centre is a band of excess resources, and on the edges are areas with insufficient resources for survival. The metabolism-based behaviour integrates the environments into a survivable combination. Unpublished work.