VI. Earth Life Emergence: Development of Body, Brain, Selves and Societies
3. Animal Intelligence and Sociality
Marino, Lori. Cetaceans and Primates: Convergence in Intelligence and Self-Awareness. Journal of Cosmology. Volume 14, 2011. In this issue on how prevalent sentient brethren might be across celestial reaches, for this online posting about a creative, mindful universe, the Emory University behavioral anthropologist avers that based on a common evolutionary emergence toward a similar cultural cognizance for these widely separated, anciently related species, there is good evidence for such a neighborly presence.
One of the ongoing debates within the astrobiology community has to do with contingency and convergence, that is, whether, if the "tape of life" were rewound, would complex intelligence evolve again on the earth. I argue that cetacean and primate intelligence is a case of cognitive convergence. Evolutionary convergence can occur within any domain of biology, from chemistry to morphology to cognition. Cognitive convergence, specifically, is convergence in those processes that comprise the way an organism processes information. In a general way cognitive convergence refers to convergence in intelligence. Since it is arguably the case that the common ancestor of cetaceans and primates, who lived over 95 million years ago, did not possess many of these shared traits, e.g., self-awareness, symbolic language comprehension, culture, the existence of these traits in these two highly divergent groups of mammals represents a striking case of cognitive convergence.
Marino, Lori. Convergence of Complex Cognitive Abilities in Cetaceans and Primates. Brain, Behavior and Evolution. 59/1-2, 2002. In contrast to the prevailing view, the Emory University neuroscientist cites new results to imply that the rise of intelligent cognition and societies will persistently occur across widely diverse species.
In this paper I will provide evidence that convergent intelligence has occurred in two distantly related mammalian taxa. Despite a deep evolutionary divergence…some primates and cetaceans show striking convergence in social behavior, artificial ‘language’ comprehension and self-recognition ability. (21)
Marino, Lori. SETI Begins at Home: Searching for Terrestrial Intelligence. Shostak, Seth, ed.. Progress in the Search for Extraterrestial Life. San Francisco: Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 1995. An early paper about Marino’s extraordinary work in understanding how dolphins interact and learn along with the general principles they can teach.
The bottom line, therefore, is that increasing information processing complexity may be the primary way to escape the restrictions of the physical environment….If this is the case, then for any organisms evolving in a physical environment (and I daresay the presumption is made that this is a universal constant) increasing amount, complexity, and speed of information processing may be the universal direction towards which all organisms move.
Marino, Lori. Thinking Chickens: A Review of Cognition, Emotion, and Behavior in the Domestic Chicken. Animal Cognition. 20/2, 2017. The founding director of the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy in Kanab, Utah provides a most thorough study and appreciation to date about a personal and communal repertoire that this avian icon actually possesses.
Domestic chickens are members of an order, Aves, which has been the focus of a revolution in our understanding of neuroanatomical, cognitive, and social complexity. At least some birds are now known to be on par with many mammals in terms of their level of intelligence, emotional sophistication, and social interaction. Yet, views of chickens have largely remained unrevised. Here I examine scientific data on the leading edge of cognition, emotions, personality, and sociality in chickens, exploring such self-awareness, cognitive bias, social learning and self-control. My overall conclusion is that chickens are just as cognitively, emotionally and socially complex as most other birds and mammals in many areas, and that there is a need for further noninvasive comparative behavioral research about their intelligence. (Abstract)
Marino, Lori and Debra Merskin. Intelligence, Complexity, and Individuality in Sheep. Animal Sentience. Vol. 4, 2019. This is a new journal all about creaturely sensitivities, along with practical, legal, ethical, sociological, and philosophical aspects. Biopsychologist Lori Marino is a biopsychologist was at Emory University and is now a leading advocate for this overdue reconception of how truly like human persons all manner of animals really are. Debra Merskin is a University of Oregon media scholar working to communicate these actual qualities so to improve the their treatment. (Temple Grandin has long had a similar mission.) Herein a species long viewed as sheepish is found to have an familiar array of emotional behaviors. See also in this journal, e.g., More Evidence of Complex Cognition in Nonhuman Species by Lesley Rogers (Vol.3, 2018) and Animal Sentience: The Other-Minds Problem by Stevan Harnad (Vol. 1, 2016).
Domestic sheep (Ovis aries) are among the earliest animals domesticated for human use. They are consumed worldwide as mutton, hogget, and lamb, kept as wool and milk producers, and used extensively in scientific research. The popular stereotype is that sheep are docile, passive, unintelligent, and timid, but a review of the research on their behavior, affect, cognition, and personality reveals that they are complex, individualistic, and social. (Abstract)
Martin, Cristofre and Richard Gordon. The Evolution of Perception. Cybernetics and Systems. 32/3-4, 2001. Insights into a “perceiving universe” which as a “perceptogenesis” has as a purpose or goal its own self-recognition.
Mather, Jennifer. Cephalopod Consciousness. Consciousness and Cognition. 17/1, 2008. A University of Lethbridge, Canada, psychologist quantifies how our octopus, squid, and cuttlefish companions likewise possess cognitive capacities so as to add this creaturely class to the burgeoning fauna graced by a modicum of human-like sensibilities and activities.
Behavioural evidence suggests that cephalopod molluscs may have a form of primary consciousness. First, the linkage of brain to behaviour seen in lateralization, sleep and through a developmental context is similar to that of mammals and birds. Second, cephalopods, especially octopuses, are heavily dependent on learning in response to both visual and tactile cues, and may have domain generality and form simple concepts. Third, these animals are aware of their position, both within themselves and in larger space, including having a working memory of foraging areas in the recent past. Thus if using a ‘global workspace’ which evaluates memory input and focuses attention is the criterion, cephalopods appear to have primary consciousness. (37)
Merker, Bjorn. The Liabilities of Mobility: A Selection Pressure for the Transition to Consciousness in Animal Evolution. Consciousness and Cognition. 14/1, 2005. (The special issue that contains this article is noted in Baars above) Among other forces, the need for enhanced, responsive movement impels an increasing sentient knowledge and awareness of an animal’s niche environment.
This suggests that consciousness arose as a solution to problems in the logistics of decision making in mobile animals with centralized brains, and has correspondingly ancient roots. (89)
Nieder, Andreas, et al. A Neural Correlate of Sensory Consciousness in a Corvid Bird. Science. 369/1626, 2020. By way of the latest neuroimaging abilities, University of Tubingen animal psychologists add proof that our feathered friends have quite an aware intelligence and behavioral repertoire. See also a commentary Birds do have a Brain Cortex and Think by Suzana Herculano-Houzel in the same issue. Once more the real presence of thoughtful, appropriate cognizance becomes evident. But all I really have to do is look out my window and witness clever blue jays frolicking at the bird bath.
Subjective experiences that can be consciously accessed and reported are associated with the cerebral cortex. Whether sensory consciousness can arise from differently organized brains that lack a layered cerebral cortex, such as the bird brain, remains unknown. We show that single-neuron responses in the pallial endbrain of crows performing a visual detection task correlate with the birds’ perception about stimulus presence or absence and argue that this is an empirical marker of avian consciousness. These results suggest that the neural foundations of sensory consciousness arose either before the emergence of mammals or independently in at least the avian lineage and do not necessarily require a cerebral cortex. (Abstract)
Panksepp, Jaak. The Basic Emotional Circuits of Mammalian Brains: Do Animals Have Affective Lives?.. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 35/9, 2011. Estonian born Panksepp is Chair of Animal Well-Being, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University. This is a cover paper for a special issue on his lifetime of pioneer research in the area, such as laughter in rodents, and epitomizes the total turnabout on the basis of advanced scientific brain research that all manner of creatures are, as we know, deeply sentient, clever, emotional companions, very much persons in their own evolutionary station. Search this journal for more pithy papers by JP.
The primal affects are intrinsic brain value systems that unconditionally and automatically inform animals how they are faring in survival. They serve an essential function in emotional learning. The positive affects indexes comfort zones that support survival, while negative affects inform animals of circumstances that may impair survival. Affective feelings come in several varieties, including sensory, homeostatic, and emotional (which I focus on here). Primary-process emotional feelings arise from ancient caudal and medial subcortical regions, and were among the first subjective experiences to exist on the face of the earth. Without them, higher forms of conscious ï¿½awarenessï¿½ may not have emerged in primate brain evolution. Because of homologous ï¿½instinctualï¿½ neural infrastructures, we can utilize animal brain research to reveal the nature of primary-process human affects. Since all vertebrates appear to have some capacity for primal affective feelings, the implications for animal-welfare and how we ethically treat other animals are vast. (Abstract, 1)
Pennisi, Elizabeth. Social Animals Prove Their Smarts. Science. 312/1734, 2006. Although animal intelligence has long been denigrated, a revolution is underway to quantify and appreciate its pervasive fact throughout the metazoan kingdom. This is especially so with regard to primates whose group lifestyles demand and promote cerebral competence and human-like behavior.
Pennisi, Elizabeth. The Power of Personality. Science. 352/644, 2016. A report on the latest findings that all manner of creatures from primates, cats and dogs, especially birds and onto insects, as we well know, are endowed with the whole gamut of human-like behaviors. These attributes then serve one’s own survival and that of their relative species.