The Relevance of Ecological Transitions to Intelligence in Marine Mammals

Frontiers in Psychology 11 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Macphail’s comparative approach to intelligence focused on associative processes, an orientation inconsistent with more multifaceted lay and scientific understandings of the term. His ultimate emphasis on associative processes indicated few differences in intelligence among vertebrates. We explore options more attuned to common definitions by considering intelligence in terms of richness of representations of the world, the interconnectivity of those representations, the ability to flexibly change those connections, knowledge, and individual differences. We focus on marine mammals, represented by the amphibious pinnipeds and the aquatic cetaceans and sirenians, as animals that transitioned from a terrestrial existence to an aquatic one, experiencing major changes in ecological pressures. They adapted with morphological transformations related to streamlining the body, physiological changes in respiration and thermoregulation, and sensory/perceptual changes, including echolocation capabilities and diminished olfaction in many cetaceans, both in-air and underwater visual focus, and enhanced senses of touch in pinnipeds and sirenians. Having a terrestrial foundation on which aquatic capacities were overlaid likely affected their cognitive abilities. Vocal and behavioral observational learning capabilities in the wild and in laboratory experiments suggest versatility in group coordination. Empirical reports on aspects of intelligent behavior like problem-solving, spatial learning, and concept learning by various species of cetaceans and pinnipeds, suggest rich cognitive abilities. The high energy demands of the brain suggest brain-intelligence relationships might be fruitful areas for the study when specific hypotheses are considered, e.g., brain mapping indicates hypertrophy of specific sensory areas in marine mammals. Modern neuroimaging techniques provide ways to study neural connectivity, and the patterns of connections between sensory, motor, and other cortical regions provide a biological framework for exploring how animals represent and flexibly use information in navigating and learning about their environment. At this stage of marine mammal research, it would still be prudent to follow Macphail’s caution that it is premature to make strong comparative statements without more empirical evidence, but an approach that includes learning more about how animals flexibly link information across multiple representations could be a productive way of comparing species by allowing them to use their specific strengths within comparative tasks.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,400

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Teaching in Marine mammals? Anecdotes versus science.Dario Maestripieri & Jessica Whitham - 2001 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (2):342-343.
On the artificiality of artificial intelligence.Hans F. M. Crombag - 1993 - Artificial Intelligence and Law 2 (1):39-49.
Intelligence.André Beauducel - 2019 - In Ludger Kühnhardt & Tilman Mayer (eds.), The Bonn Handbook of Globality: Volume 1. Springer Verlag. pp. 227-236.
Neokantians origins of modern narrative of philosophy.E. Mishalova - 2012 - Epistemological studies in Philosophy, Social and Political Sciences 4 (22):52-57.
Mass extinctions as major transitions.Adrian Currie - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (2):29.
Marx, Engels and Ecology.Michael Löwy - 2017 - Kalagatos 14 (3):149-161.
Healing the wounds of marine mammals by protecting their habitat.G. Notarbartolo di Sciara & E. Hoyt - 2020 - Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics 20:15-23.

Analytics

Added to PP
2020-09-08

Downloads
6 (#1,105,473)

6 months
1 (#452,962)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

The Principles of Psychology.William James - 1890 - London, England: Dover Publications.
The Principles of Psychology.William James - 1890 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 11 (3):506-507.
Inquiries into human Faculty and its developpement.F. Galton - 1883 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 16:534-537.

View all 20 references / Add more references