Cooperation, teamwork fathered intelligence, bigger brains

April 20th, 2012 - 8:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Dublin, April 20 (IANS) Cooperation and teamwork drove human intelligence and larger brain sizes, according to fresh evidence unearthed by scientists.

Researchers from Trinity College Dublin 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.

“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,” explained study co-author Andrew Jackson, assistant professor at Dublin.

“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,” concluded doctoral student, Luke McNally at Dublin, who led the study, the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B reports.

Researchers 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, according to a Trinity statement.

By allowing the brains of these digital organisms to evolve freely in their model, 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.

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