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I can't reconcile the phenomena of instinct very well

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I can't reconcile the phenomena of instinct very well

Postby kackermann » Mon Jul 30, 2007 1:23 pm

A salmon navigates complex waterways to spawn. The Arctic Tern migrates half way around the world.

If instinct is coded for in DNA, then that means, somehow, DNA acquired a representation of the physical world. How incredible is that?

Also, is it coded to prewire neural connections that mimic experience? Is it prewired experience, or is a map?

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Postby mith » Mon Jul 30, 2007 6:57 pm

There's a theory that salmon jump up to smell the odors of the environment...so it might not be much of a map.
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Postby kotoreru » Tue Jul 31, 2007 10:15 am

Migratory birds apparently have magnetite crystals in their heads which likely interact with the Earth's magnetic fields to give the bird a sense of direction.

Not sure if there is any evidence to suggest that the environment, or aspects of it, are mapped in the genome of any organism.
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Postby khenwood » Tue Jul 31, 2007 4:08 pm

Kackermann -

If you'd like to pick up a book on the topic, you can try Hardwired Behavior: What Neuroscience Reveals about Morality by Laurence Tancredi.

It's on a loooong list of books I need to read.
Will I ever reach the end of this list? Probably not. :)
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Postby Darby » Tue Jul 31, 2007 9:36 pm

Many of those types of instincts have a strong learning component - the timing and the basic directions, maybe the distance, may be instinctive, for instance, but finding the right spot once you get there is more flexible.
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Postby kotoreru » Wed Aug 01, 2007 10:07 am

Indeed, I actually believe that the migration patterns of North Sea Cod has been changing for some time. It's possibly a result of lowering the overall age of the fish through overfishing i.e. 'population memory' lost with older fish.
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