Cognitive networks have evolved to cope with uncertain environments in order to make reliable decisions. Such decision making circuits need to respond to the external world in efficient and flexible ways, and one potentially general mechanism of achieving this is grounded in critical states. Mounting evidence has shown that brains operate close to such critical boundaries consistent with self-organized criticality (SOC). Is this also taking place in small-scale living systems, such as cells? Here we explore a recent model of engineered gene networks that have been shown to exploit the feedback between order and control parameters (as defined by expression levels of two coupled genes) to achieve a SOC state. We suggest that such SOC motif could be exploited to generate adaptive behavioral patterns and might help design fast responses in synthetic cellular and multicellular organisms.
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