Cooperation and the evolution of intelligence

Luke McNally*, Sam P. Brown, Andrew L. Jackson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The high levels of intelligence seen in humans, other primates, certain cetaceans and birds remain a major puzzle for evolutionary biologists, anthropologists and psychologists. It has long been held that social interactions provide the selection pressures necessary for the evolution of advanced cognitive abilities (the 'social intelligence hypothesis'), and in recent years decision-making in the context of cooperative social interactions has been conjectured to be of particular importance. Here we use an artificial neural network model to show that selection for efficient decision-making in cooperative dilemmas can give rise to selection pressures for greater cognitive abilities, and that intelligent strategies can themselves select for greater intelligence, leading to a Machiavellian arms race. Our results provide mechanistic support for the social intelligence hypothesis, highlight the potential importance of cooperative behaviour in the evolution of intelligence and may help us to explain the distribution of cooperation with intelligence across taxa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3027-3034
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Volume279
Issue number1740
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2012

Keywords

  • INDIRECT RECIPROCITY
  • ALTRUISM
  • FINITE AUTOMATA PLAY
  • HYPOTHESIS
  • CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE
  • PRIMATE COGNITION
  • prisoner's dilemma
  • NEOCORTEX SIZE
  • BRAIN
  • Machiavellian intelligence
  • snowdrift game
  • social brain
  • SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE
  • reciprocity
  • cognition
  • REPEATED PRISONERS-DILEMMA

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