1.c.8 – Are memory and learning evolving strategies?

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December 31, 2009 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti

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Are memory and learning evolving strategies?

Thanks to memory the brain is able to recognize feelings already felt and accumulate experience; when facing a new problem, every animal can react with generic, uncoordinated and random actions but certainly will remember the one that has proved to be more effective; in a subsequent and similar situation, to remind it will save time and efforts. We are facing a new form of adaptation; after genetic adaptation, which requires a large number of generations, we are now considering the intellectual adaptation, which, even if limited to a single individual and consequent to a period of apprenticeship, offers major advantages: thanks to memory and learning, animals can develop a great number of specific reactions, enabling him to swim, run, climb, fly, hunt, build lairs and many other things to be done at an appropriate time.
These faculty of the brain, already present in marine flat  worms, which are rather an archaic group, probably have developed to learn to move on the uneven seabed, but we know that they are the basis for important future developments. These abilities, which can be summed up in the term “intelligence”, were maintained in all main groups that have later evolved, and this demonstrates their importance and versatility.
These strategies, perhaps with minor modifications, have allowed the colonization of a wide variety of environments. This brilliant result is called evolutionary success.
Now let’s consider the strategies that led especially our species to the evolutionary success.

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