Evolution of Intelligence

As I began to ponder the seemingly incomprehensible complexities of social interaction between men and women, running the full gamut of the modern day mating ritual, the intermingling of thought, emotion, and behavioral processes, including their origins and the outcomes, I first sought to provide myself with a simple, generally accepted definition of intelligence as a baseline of reference to begin the work.  What I discovered is a complete lack of consensus among psychologist, sociologists, medical doctors, philosophers, Vickers, the general population, and even the concentrated evil marauding as human life forms we refer to as lawyers.

Indeed, in comparing definitions from two of the most widely accepted repositories of contemporaneous knowledge, the Merriam Webster Dictionary and Wikipedia, respectively, I was even more frustrated.  I then asked the smartest people I knew for a simple definition and received a jumbled pile of similar words like learning, knowing, problem solving, behavior, God, evolution, and more supporting arguments about why their definition made sense versus a sensible definition.

After wasting considerable time on something that should have been straight forward, I came to the infallible conclusion that there exists no one simple definition.  Nothing that I found or heard satiated my appetite for an adequate definition of intelligence at its base levels.   It was like using the word cheese to describe a particular anticipated flavor, just too general and inadequate to accurately convey the taste to a refined pallet, or to more accurately describe the early direction of the thesis; I was cutting the cheese, intellectually speaking.  It became necessary to categorize intelligence in order to intelligently discuss its evolution.

Instinctual Intelligence:

The Reptilian Brain or Hindbrain evolved early and houses our instinctual level ofintelligence. We share our instinctual level of intelligence with birds and reptiles. This mind-processing center responds to simple physical inputs and controls physical responses in yes/no terms. It renders basic, instantaneous judgments on who is acceptable for sex through a language consisting of automatic physical responses to the production of complex chemical compounds or neurotransmitters.  Quite on its own, it receives input from all the senses and approves or rejects a potential love candidate accounting for at least one of the mysteries surrounding romantic love, physical attraction.  Scholars have suspected our instincts role in attraction and the forming of love relationships or pair bonds for some time but the scientific community is only now beginning to understand how the chemistry involved actually works.

The Pre-Cambrian Epoch, approximately 550 million years ago marked a split from cellular level organism evolution to far more complex organisms and, simultaneously, passive intelligence to the first signs of active intelligence or instincts and the split between the Plant and Animal kingdoms with no reconciliation to this day.  Animal life learned quickly!  Through their newly found instincts, organisms shared substance and information to better win the intelligence arms race and, as they danced in a broader eco-system, their life forces intermingled with other species and for some, intelligence was rewarded in the form of competitive advantage.  Balance was achieved through role playing in and among organisms as the bio-sphere formed.  Like specialized cellular structure function within individuals, roles, predator and prey, are played by organisms within local ecosystems. For others, who are not intelligent enough to play nice, extinction.

Organisms mutated to take advantage of environmental resources.  Basic instinctual intelligence formed and was rewarded in spades, those with it thrived, those without withered away. Instincts were passed to the next generation directly through gene development and specialization.  Examples of instinctually fixed action patterns can be observed in the behavior of animals today, which perform various activities (sometimes complex) that are believed not to be based on prior experience, such as reproduction, cooperative colony formation, and feeding among insects.  More specific examples include, sea turtles hatched on a beach automatically move toward the ocean and honeybees communicate the direction of a food source by dancing, all without formal instruction.  Other examples include animal fighting, animal courtship behaviors, internal escape functions, and nest building.  Another term for the same concept is innate behavior.

Human infants display such instinctual behaviors.  Of the most observed and notable instinctual behaviors is the routing instinct, or the instant search for their mothers’ milk delivery system.  A simple exercise we have all experienced and one that will leave no doubt about how your instinctual intelligence can take charge of your body and behavior is to hold your breath for as long as you can.  Eventually, unless you are Michael Phlephs, your instincts will overpower your consciousness and you will breath.  You cannot commit suicide in this fashion.

Instinctual actions have no learning curve; they are hard-wired and ready to use without learning, but do depend on maturational processes to appear. This is in contrast to those based on learning, which require memory and provide individually stored successful reactions built on experience.

Biological predispositions are innate, easily learned biologically vectored behaviors.  For example, in one hour after birth a baby colt can learn to run.  It is near impossible to study pure instinctual expressions in humans as individual experiences at all levels of intelligence constantly mingle in the mind.  Experience will change gene expression where some cases can be transmitted as predispositions toward a particular behavior to one’s children.  Learning and the environment can affect protein production leading to changes in gene function.  Changing the environment will change what the gene does in future generations.  For example, learning to swim by being thrown into the water illustrates the confusion between instinct and perceptual intelligence, or learning through experience.  Even though the vast majority of eight-year-old human children will naturally float, it is their ability to learn quickly through experience, not instinct, that allows them to make their way back to the water’s edge.

Of course, this discussion is purposely oversimplified and designed to provide the most basic understanding of fundamental intelligence as it exists in its most rudimentary state.  Instincts drive critical behaviors within the context of dating and relationship formation among modern humans and it is this particular behavior, at the point of first encounters that cannot be suppressed or denied.  Therefore, it is important to have a firm understanding of what to look for in a potential partner’s instinctual behavior that can reveal their intentions.  I promise you that they will not be aware of or be able to completely hide or control their “hard-wired” instincts and, if you pay particular attention, you will be able to anticipate positive versus negative outcomes with a high degree of accuracy.

One other note to the female of the species concerning a lesser used attention strategy.  Ladies, the next time you are instinctually signaling your desire to a dating prospect from across the bar and he is not getting the message, simply walk over and place your hand on his face completely covering his nose and mouth. I assure you that you will get the attention of his instinctual intelligence before he passes out.

Perceptual Intelligence:

The Old Mammalian Brain or Limbic System evolved with the rise of the mammals. It is the layer or area of the human brain that houses our perceptual or emotional level of intelligence. This mind-processing center responds to perceptual inputs and controls emotional responses.  Our perceptual level of intelligence receives inputs and communicates responses through facial expressions, body language, gestures, touch, and nonverbal vocal cues. While, in general, perceptual communication involves the transfer of emotional information at a subconscious level between two people, for lovers, the emotional communication is usually much deeper and incorporates vital messages about the balance of the relationship.  When a line of connection moves out of balance, it is through perceptual communication that we disclose the associated pain and disappointment.  Interestingly, in a true love relationship, where nearly all lines of connection are at equilibrium, any disconnect or movement from balance stands out like a sore thumb.

Around 150 million years ago, the foundation of the Limbic System or “emotional brain” or “Old Mammalian Brain” evolved in mammals.  Highly specialized memory combined with emotions to produce what might have been the first true feelings.  The physical structure of the Limbic System consists of the Amygdala, Hippocampus, Hypothalamus, and the Thalamus.  As with the evolution of the earlier Hindbrain, the Limbic System most likely grew in layers over the next 100 million years, whereby, with the addition of each new emotional communication ability and group social dynamic, a new physical layer of growth was recorded.  Although instinctual intelligence continued to make snap judgments on survival and mating behaviors, acceptance of dominance, cooperation, recognition of individuals, and expressions of intentions, complex learning, and teaching were all new behaviors processed in the Limbic System and enacted through perceptual intelligence.

We humans communicate with each other through our advanced level of perceptual intelligence on a continual basis and nowhere are these communications more prevalent than in the realm of romantic love.  Our emotions connect with others and relay tremendous amounts of information without evoking conscious thought.

With these new rooms in the house of the brain, perceptual intelligence advanced for over 50 million years in dramatic fashion and produced more complex emotional and social based behaviors until, within the primate family, one animal stood up to be counted, the Hominid.

Conceptual Intelligence:

The Neocortex or more specifically the Frontal Lobes evolved later and isexaggeratedamong great apes and humans.  It is the layer of the brain that houses our conceptual intelligence or conscious mind and is believed to be responsible for problem solving, creativity and reasoning.  This mind processing center responds to conceptual inputs and controls intellectual responses.  Our conceptual level of intelligence received information and communicates responses through various languages (verbal, art, math etc.).  Although the miracle of language provides the preferred method for conceptual communication, for love partners, it is not as easy as taking two people who can talk in complete sentences and asking them to connect cognitively.  Knowledge gaps between partners in terms of academic achievements, opinions, roles, cultures, career goals, and financial factors can contribute to conceptual communication barriers and are usually accompanied by strong emotional commitment to individual position.  Conceptual intelligence provides for the only continuum of connection where conscious choices can be made along several subordinate lines.

There is no simple answer or single linear cause and effect string of events in the story of hominids and emergence of conceptual intelligence. Instead, a combination of several, biological, emotional, social, and intellectual variables combined over several million years whereby the effect or innovation of a particular adaption represented as the result of a previous cause quickly became the primary cause for the next innovation.  In addition, rather than conclude with understanding the impact that these developments had on modern dating regiments and love relationships, we must add the emergence of consciousness, the diversity of personality type, and the myriad of intermingling and conflicting implications of pop culture to ultimately comprehend present day mating behavior.

I would suggest that, as with advances to reasoning, language, culture, and technology, the period of human development, 150,000 years ago to 35,000 years ago, was a time marked by advances in human emotional development as well.  It would not be out of the question to infer that humans of this time may have experienced the first feelings of amazement, jealously, sympathy, grief, and optimism, not to mention the first heartfelt declaration of eternal love.

Women of the time may also have advanced language skills and subsequently culture through flipping the bird at the well-established animal kingdom mate selection process, might makes right.  It is not mere speculation that women place a premium on language skills in modern mate selection and from 50,000 years ago to the present day, many have paired with males who possessed the best communication skills.  Men with better verbal skills have not always been the best protectors or providers and were most likely not the strongest among their troop, so why did women choose them over physically superior specimens?  It may be as simple as their ability to connect through conceptual intelligence, declare their commitment, and profess their undying love through language skills!

The archeological record may demonstrate this; among the earliest accepted archeologically evidence of imagination and creativity, behaviorally modern humans, there are several “Venus Figurines” that have been uncovered from various dig sites in various geographies dating from the Upper Paleolithic, circa 40 tya – 13 tya.  Discovered figurines of the period are typically small statuettes of the female body carved out of antler, ivory, or colored rock like green serpentine.

Archeologists are quick to assign the emergence of conceptual intelligence and modern behavior and religious ceremonial value to these artifacts; however, they are careful not to apply the emotional state of love as a possible motivation for the tremendous caveman efforts.  I would suggest just the opposite, that the artistic expressions of the time were directly tied to the newly evolved, ultimately complex emotion of love.  Perhaps if archeologists spent less time digging up old bones and more time jumping new ones, they might notice the direct correlation between art and love that the rest of us archeologically challenged modern humans so easily recognize.

What’s love got to do with it?  Love, if we accept the simple dictionary definition:  a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person; may be the most consuming of all emotional states and thought processes.  Love could certainly be considered one of the most physically active states of the brain and sometimes body and one of the most complex states of mind that we can experience as humans.  Love requires the establishment of physical, emotional, and intellectual connections as well as continual internal and external communication at the instinctual, perceptual, and conceptual levels of intelligence.  Love demands that we constantly monitor these connections for even the slightest changes in partner behavior and commitment level and communicate our subconscious and conscious findings to our partner for confirmation or reassessment.  Love may be at the bases of motivation of many human behaviors and one of the primary causes of intellectual and cultural advancement during the last 50,000 years.

Background Intelligence

Cellular Intelligence

Instinctual Intelligence

Perceptual Intelligence

Conceptual Intelligence


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