In the 1980s cognitive scientists began to posit that human cognition itself is an emergent process. In your brain, this thinking goes, different sets of neurons fire in favor of different options, exciting some neighbors into firing like the waggling bees, and inhibiting others into silence, like the head-butting ones. The competition builds until a decision emerges. The brain as a whole says, “Go right” or “Eat that cookie.”
Great little Wired piece about the study of swarm patterns and transferring the lessons between different disciplines.