Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How social interaction and teamwork led to human intelligence

Date:
April 19, 2012
Source:
Trinity College Dublin
Summary:
Scientists have discovered proof that the evolution of intelligence and larger brain sizes can be driven by cooperation and teamwork, shedding new light on the origins of what it means to be human.

Scientists have discovered proof that the evolution of intelligence and larger brain sizes can be driven by cooperation and teamwork, shedding new light on the origins of what it means to be human.
Credit: Rido / Fotolia

Scientists have discovered proof that the evolution of intelligence and larger brain sizes can be driven by cooperation and teamwork, shedding new light on the origins of what it means to be human. The study appears online in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B and was led by scientists at Trinity College Dublin: PhD student, Luke McNally and Assistant Professor Dr Andrew Jackson at the School of Natural Sciences in collaboration with Dr Sam Brown of the University of Edinburgh.

The researchers constructed computer models of artificial organisms, endowed with artificial brains, which played each other in classic games, such as the 'Prisoner's Dilemma', that encapsulate human social interaction. They used 50 simple brains, each with up to 10 internal processing and 10 associated memory nodes. The brains were pitted against each other in these classic games.

The game was treated as a competition, and just as real life favours successful individuals, so the best of these digital organisms which was defined as how high they scored in the games, less a penalty for the size of their brains were allowed to reproduce and populate the next generation of organisms.

By allowing the brains of these digital organisms to evolve freely in their model the researchers were able to show that the transition to cooperative society leads to the strongest selection for bigger brains. Bigger brains essentially did better as cooperation increased.

The social strategies that emerge spontaneously in these bigger, more intelligent brains show complex memory and decision making. Behaviours like forgiveness, patience, deceit and Machiavellian trickery all evolve within the game as individuals try to adapt to their social environment.

"The strongest selection for larger, more intelligent brains, occurred when the social groups were first beginning to start cooperating, which then kicked off an evolutionary Machiavellian arms race of one individual trying to outsmart the other by investing in a larger brain. Our digital organisms typically start to evolve more complex 'brains' when their societies first begin to develop cooperation." explained Dr Andrew Jackson.

The idea that social interactions underlie the evolution of intelligence has been around since the mid-70s, but support for this hypothesis has come largely from correlative studies where large brains were observed in more social animals. The authors of the current research provide the first evidence that mechanistically links decision making in social interactions with the evolution of intelligence. This study highlights the utility of evolutionary models of artificial intelligence in answering fundamental biological questions about our own origins.

"Our model differs in that we exploit the use of theoretical experimental evolution combined with artificial neural networks to actually prove that yes, there is an actual cause-and-effect link between needing a large brain to compete against and cooperate with your social group mates."

"Our extraordinary level of intelligence defines mankind and sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. It has given us the arts, science and language, and above all else the ability to question our very existence and ponder the origins of what makes us unique both as individuals and as a species," concluded PhD student and lead author Luke McNally.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Trinity College Dublin. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. L. McNally, S. P. Brown, A. L. Jackson. Cooperation and the evolution of intelligence. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2012.0206

Cite This Page:

Trinity College Dublin. "How social interaction and teamwork led to human intelligence." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419132556.htm>.
Trinity College Dublin. (2012, April 19). How social interaction and teamwork led to human intelligence. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419132556.htm
Trinity College Dublin. "How social interaction and teamwork led to human intelligence." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419132556.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A recent report claims personality can change over time as we age, and usually that means becoming nicer and more emotionally stable. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) In the U.S., there are more than 11 million couples trying to conceive at any given time. From helping celebrity moms like Bethanny Frankel to ordinary soon-to-be-moms, TV personality and parenting expert, Rosie Pope, gives you the inside scoop on mastering motherhood. London-born entrepreneur Pope is the creative force behind Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep. She explains why being an entrepreneur offers the best life balance for her and tips for all types of moms. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins