A Plant That Forgets

Nautilus peers into the Venus flytrap:

Each stimulation [of the plant’s “trigger” hairs] generates an electrical charge, but it generally takes two charges to spark the electrochemical signal that triggers the closure, so the plant must “remember” the first charge as it waits for the second. It has only enough energy to remember for about 30 seconds, so its survival depends on short-term memory and the ability to forget. Similarly, in a human brain, a neuron builds up an electrical charge when stimulated by other nerves, approaching a threshold above which it will fire an electrical signal—the basis of everything from recognizing a plant, like a Venus flytrap, to contemplating the meaning of life.