Brain Mind Center

Intelligence

The central feature of intelligence is the ability to understand what is really going on out there and to respond to events with successful and adaptive behavior. Intelligence is built from subsystems that sense, decide, remember and act. Intelligence is about survival in a threatening world. Humans survive because of the genius abilities such as vision, hearing, skilled movement and speech, all abilities that are built into their brain, innate gifts from nature. Humans do not have learn how to see or how to hear what is going on out there, but they do have to learn what it means to them today. This is an interactive process. Speech is an advanced form of sound interaction. Although modern humans tend to emphasize individual thought and expression, most thinking involves group activity and the value of speech is to connect individuals in thinking groups. Books and other publications link large numbers of humans in common patterns of language-dependent thinking.

The newest human abilities are more dependent on learning and are the least reliable. Reasoning, planning and learning to tolerate other humans in a friendly constructive manner require the most sustained practice.  The term, nice, refers to these characteristics and therefore nice people require sustained learning to remain reasonable, to tolerate others and to behave in a friendly, constructive manner.

It is fashionable to speak in terms of "mental abilities" and to list a number of different mental abilities in terms of educational concerns, such as reading, writing, math and music. This is a narrow view of intelligence. The brain is modular with a host of different functions contributing to intelligence. We expect and do find different arrangements of mental abilities in different people. If you consider the intelligence test of life overall, then you recognize that there is a range of abilities in any human population. In higher education and other life contests, general ability has been traditionally desirable. The "well-rounded" individual was a generalist, good at everything but perhaps not outstanding in one skill.

Smart people learn faster and learn more than not so smart people. Smart people also are more curious, seek more diverse experiences and absorb more information. Intelligence is manifest in the ability to acquire complicated skills and excel in performance by practice and progressive improvement. Competent people are smart people who have the discipline to practice and improve their performance. There is a relationship between being nice person and being a competent person. In demanding, professional environments the nicest people tend to be the smartest and most competent. There are exceptions.

Leda Cosmides and John Tooby suggested:"The brain is a naturally constructed computational system whose function is to solve adaptive information-processing problems (such as face recognition, threat interpretation, language acquisition, or navigation). Over evolutionary time, its circuits were cumulatively added because they reasoned or processed information in a way that enhanced the adaptive regulation of behavior and physiology....our minds consist of a large number of circuits that are specialized. For example, we have some neural circuits whose design is specialized for vision. All they do is help you see. The design of other neural circuits is specialized for hearing. All they do is detect changes in air pressure, and extract information from it. Still other neural circuits are specialized for sexual attraction -- i.e., they govern what you find sexually arousing, what you regard as beautiful, who you'd like to date, and so on.

You can view the brain as a collection of dedicated computers -- a collection of modules whose operations are functionally integrated to produce behavior...So it is with your conscious experience. The only things you become aware of are a few high level conclusions passed on by thousands of specialized mechanisms: some that are gathering sensory information from the world, others that are analyzing and evaluating that information, checking for inconsistencies, filling in the blanks, figuring out what it all means.

Read Intelligence and Learning by Stephen Gislason MD


Further reading: Neuroscience Notes, Intelligence and Learning, Language & Thinking

Persona Digital

Persona Digital Books is the publisher of The Human Brain, Neuroscience Notes, Intelligence & Learning and related books. Three books are available as print editions for mail delivery. All books are available as eBooks for download (PDF files).

Alpha Online Orders... Logon or Create Account | Order Help