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Medical Is intelligence equal to knowledge?

  1. Jun 3, 2006 #1
    Intelligence is the mental capacity to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas and language, and learn.
    I had a little thought experiment the other day, and I thought I'd share it here.

    If we define knowledge as knowing something, as in, a piece of information, no matter how small or seemingly irrelevant, then, can we say that intelligence is an emergent thought pattern stemming from the collected memories and information the brain has stored?

    If the brain works in such a way that it pattern matches things in the way it deems logical(where that logic itself is based on other knowledge again), then it all makes sense because intelligence could just be an advanced pattern matching process.

    For instance if a person is very good at learning math from a young age, then the person MUST have had some sort of memories stored that makes him capable of pattern matching logically how math works.
    You can't imo get intelligence if there is a lack of knowledge.
    Just "being intelligent" without any sort of physical reason for it seems silly to me.

    Also, while there may be people that have "faster" brains, as in, there is a physical "fault" in the brain that makes the person think faster, then that is not included in this thesis.

    But regardless, it makes sense to me that intelligence for the most part is just a low level property of knowledge / memories.
    The pattern matching process could also be based on knowledge, as everything that the brain does could, so that at least we come a little closer to defining what intelligence is.

    Last edited: Jun 3, 2006
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  3. Jun 3, 2006 #2


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    Very young babies show variance in cognitive taks from one baby to another. Anyone who has been around newborns knows that they are not all equally quick or alert, and these manifestations correlate with later mental quickness when the child becomes older. This is all "anecdotal" on my part but it is plain as day. So where does te differing load of memories that, in your conjecture, enable different intelligence, come from? Reincarnation?
  4. Jun 3, 2006 #3
    It's given to them by God.

    All jokes aside though,

    Different babies have different brains, it seems odd to me that intelligence would be somehow seperate from the physical brain?

    Sounds redundant I know, but if you think about it, what else does the brain have to work with, when solving logical, abstract or other tasks?
    It seems reasonable to me to assume that it comes from earlier memories, no matter how insignificant.

    As for your question, I think they must have some sort of prerequisite for being quicker, their brains maybe pick up information faster depending on how much they have already learned..

    Maybe a neuroscientist or developmental psychology major could help me out on the issue :)
  5. Jun 3, 2006 #4


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    In my opinion a child's level of exposure and interaction with the world certainly contributes to his/her intelligence in maturity, and not unsignificantly, but i wouldn't call this "knowledge" exactly.

    Drawing a parallel to the computer world: in infancy a child is an algorithm being programmed, in maturity that algorithm is used on data (knowledge or stimulus). The algorithm is the person's "first nature", which defines what you can do without thinking about how it needs to be accomplished.

    I think conditioning is responsible for defining this algorithm and that it takes place at infancy moreso than at other stages. The effectiveness of the algorithm being correlated with intelligence.

    Knowledge and experience, together with stimulus, are the data that the algorithm handles. I wouldn't say that knowledge and experience are equivalent to intelligence, because in my opinion intelligence is more of a reflex rather than something learned. But knowledge can be an extension of the algorithm rather than just plain data. Learned knowledge might specify another algorithm which a person's "main algorithm" will execute, but this is no longer "first-nature" so it might not be as efficient although for most purposes it can well be good enough.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2006
  6. Jun 4, 2006 #5


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    I'm trying damn hard to find you some articles on mediational and predicational learning theories to give you somewhat of a primer on this topic, as I'm no expert myself, but I'm having a great deal of difficulty doing so. I'm going to go ahead and move this to the mind and brain sciences section of the forum, with the hope that perhaps the posters there will have more knowledge of childhood learning models.

    The Journal of Mind and Behavioral Sciences keeps coming up, but I can't seem to gain access to it through any of the major databases available to university libraries and it doesn't seem to be online through its own website. They only give abstracts and the option to order reprints of each article by writing to the professor responsible for it.
  7. Jun 4, 2006 #6
    There's been a study recently that looked at the thickness of a child's cortex as they aged in relation to their level of intelligence.

    They found that kids scoring higher in IQ tests actually started out with a thinner cortex, which would suggest they'd be less intelligence. But they found what I suspected they might, that these kids had much more plastic tissue than the others, allowing them to form interconnections more rapidly - and that's a major thing when it comes to learning.

    There are two things that affect how intelligent a person appears for me... firstly, how much information they already have their brain and secondly, what their genetic disposition is towards exploiting that information.

    I think of my memories as puddles or pools of data in my brain. I personally acquire these puddles by empirically investigating my world, and my parents helped provide them while I was too young to fully do so on my own.

    I have an idea when one of those two puddles joins together. And my parents' DNA provides a rough template for how good or bad my brain is at doing that via things like how rapidly neurotrophins and coincidence detectors respond in my brain tissue.

    I think the DNA does play an important role, but I think at least an equal percentage, if not more, comes from just filling your mind up with as many different puddles as you can - since you can't change your DNA, yet. I'm sure that some of the factors that could be mistaken for being based purely on a DNA disposition are also linked to more environmental factors. For instance, if you contantly use your brain to think up new ideas you can train it into performing a bit better - as an athlete might have to 'warm up' for a few days or weeks before getting back into a sport after a long break. By constantly feeding your brain with problems, I would guess that you encourage it to get things like an, at least temporarily, increased blood supply, that'll help with fuelling the cells on the next problem - thoughts cost glucose (could you think yourself thin? :tongue:)

    In terms of intelligence and ability to handle new problems, I think it's a lot like the ability to jog or swim well. Some of it's DNA, some of it's practice. Some people are born good at it, and then beaten by those who aren't but who've practiced hard.

    Classical music is supposed to be good for your brain. Probably because it teaches you to listen to more than one line of music at once. Mozart was particularly good at merging a huge number of voices into one section of music. Once you get your ears trained to listen to it, music with multiple voicings becomes a kind of 'choose your own adventure' story where you can pick different instruments and voices to follow through different sections of the music, listening to how they interact with the others. You can listen to such music tens of times over and still find yourself thinking 'I didn't notice that last time'.

    One thing I like to try is to sing or think about a tune while I'm listening to something different, and then maybe try tapping the beat to something else again. It's very tricky. But since I started playing an instrument years and years ago, and listening to hours worth of music a day sometimes, it's gotten easier.

    There are other things you can do like memory tests. Perhaps you could try to remember the last paragraph I wrote word for word for instance, or something else.

    If it's hard for your to do something with your brain, it's probably because it's an underworked area. My ability to speak different languages isn't great and I've actually wondered if I'm slightly dyslexic (I used google, yes) - I'll see words and not be able to work out how to say it for longer than normal. But I managed to get an A* for English. I'd put this down to the fact that I now spend a lot of my time on scientific as opposed to literal problems.

    I know I'm also not the most artistic person alive, so I have fantasies about having a bit of a doodling and colouring session to keep those particular parts of my brain happy.
  8. Jun 4, 2006 #7
    Call me nuts but I think that if the environment is what determines what genes we have... ie:speciation etc...... then the environment of experiences that influence the neurons in a brain also influence the genetics of each of these neurons in the brain.

    Judging by this premise... we will see predominant abilities and preferences that have been "programmed" by the long line of anscestors who have contributed genetics to the offspring being studied. If this is the case then we will observe the offspring showing diligence or delinquence in one or more subject... according to the inherited genetics held by the neurons of that offspring's brain.

    So, its not reincarnation... per sey, its more like passed along genetically modified neuronal grouping, plasticity and those traits that are expressed by these predetermined conditions. :tongue2:
  9. Jun 5, 2006 #8
    In that sense, I think behaviors acquired via different means of learning might be better fitted as an explanation since genetics mentioned is a little too generalized. Behaviors are learnt from generation to generation, and get changed to fit themselves to the environmental changes along the way.
    Because behaviors are fully controlled by the brain and enviromental factors, long duration of interaction would certainly give rise to genetic adaptations...
  10. Jun 6, 2006 #9
    Yes, that's my point. Not only are there genes being "mutated" by the repeated behaviours of an individual but, when that individual has offspring their behaviour acts as a catylis toward the expression of the behaviourally modified genes they have passed on to their offspring. So that, in effect, the behaviour that moulded the gene that is now a part of the offspring also reinforces the expression of that gene.

    However, there's always the "rebel without a cause" to explain. Probably just EmotionalIntelligence (also known as "drama")
  11. Jun 6, 2006 #10


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    Mutations aren't driven by habit or practice. The Giraffe's neck didn't get longer for it's constant practice of reaching for the taller vegetation. This theory has a name, i forget what it is exactly, but was discarded a while ago. Mutations are mostly driven by damage incurred by environmental agents or by errors during replication. Even when a mutation does occur it doesn't mean it will be passed on. In order for it to be passed on it must be present in a germ cell (involved in reproduction). If a cell in your skin (or your brain) is mutated then the changes won't be passed on to your offspring. At most this mutated cell can replicate enough times to fill your body with the mutated version having potentially negative effects (like cancer).
    So the proposal that:
    ... is not correct.
  12. Jun 7, 2006 #11
    Thank you Job, I'll have to respond at a later date... for now... here's a link and part of an article from the Neuroscience of Intelligence:


    You'll have to note that every chromosome in your body is subjected to the habits, practices and repetitions you put your body through. The amino acids and resulting proteins produced by these chromosomes is probably affected and probably reconfigured because of the repetitions. The DNA in the haploid sperm or ovum carries the altered record of those chromosomes.

    The traits of an individual... and the individual's anscestory are carried on to the individtual's offspring. The individual's environmental (including the cellular/nucleic/molecular) influences and their anscestrial genetics both play a role in contributing to the haploid (reproductive cell). And so, the offspring not only enjoys genetic developments from its immediate contributor but also those of its anscestor's.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2006
  13. Jun 8, 2006 #12
    The results seen in the offspring of parents exposed to various levels of radiation (extra arms, missing limbs etc...) show that what the offspring's primary contributor (of DNA) experiences... ie: the environment of the parent (including the parent's DNA) during their life is transfered, genetically, to the offspring.

    How is it any different for the subtler forms of exposure a parent goes through such as repeated use of intellect or the repeated use of dexterity? These forms of exposure to frequency of events will always translate into modifications of genetic material and be passed on to the offspring.
  14. Jun 8, 2006 #13


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    These modification may happen in the genome of the body cells, but only the genome of the sex cells is passed on. If a retrovirus like HIV modifies the genes in the bone marrow and blood cells, that doesn't affect the sex cells, and AIDS is not inherited.

    Your theory is called Lamarckism, after its pre-Darwin originator, and it is not just falsified on theoretical grounds but on thousands and thousands of genetic experiments with fruit flies and mice, and careful observation of human populations. It is false and that's all! Sorry.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2006
  15. Jun 8, 2006 #14
    The extra arms and things the kids end up with are a result of the radiation causing mutations, very specifically, to the DNA in their parent's sex cells rather than just any part of their body.

    If all of that mutation was limited to only their parent's own DNA (just in their arm say) the chance of that mutation making it into their sex cells, and so on to their kids, would be minimal at best. Further, and somewhat obviously, their parent's wouldn't necessarily develop another arm given the same dose of radiation just elsewhere in their body.

    Since we're talking about intelligence, that's based very tightly around what's going on with the neurons in your brain.

    If, through very hard use, I somehow manage to modify the DNA of one of my neurons (which, as far as I'm aware, no human cell can do on purpose to carry over empirical information), why would that change end up in my sex cells? There isn't really an A-Z of where each neuron goes in DNA either - it'd have to contribute to a more general effect.

    I think -Job- is closer. If you're intelligent you're more likely to have and look after children. The brain is just a piece of tissue like the rest of us, and it's shape and layout is quite tightly controlled by genes (all babies grow up with a brain roughly the same shape and with the same bits in the same places). I expect that the actual differences between us, in terms of predetermined abilities and our base personality, is much smaller than a lot of us would like to think.

    I also think that a lot of our life is basically chance, there are lots of thoughts and feelings I wouldn't have if it wasn't for chance putting them infront of me to experience. I can try to call them my own choices but I can't predict the future 100% accurately, therefore I can only raise the chances of having a particular experience.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2006
  16. Jun 8, 2006 #15
    Maybe quantumcarl is referring to epigenetics:


    Last week i posted a topic that showed that it now does look like mendelian genetics is wrong:

  17. Jun 8, 2006 #16

    Agh! Hey, at least I'm givin' it here!:redface:

    And there's still no doubt in my mind that it is soley the environment that shapes a gene. One cannot assume that a gene has spontaneous origins. I'll go as far as to say that the first form of RNA such as Viral RNA was formed in response to an environment that demanded its formation as a response. That is not Lamarciakism... its Carlisticism!:rolleyes:

    I've already explained that the sex cells and their genetcs are part of the body. Their not some separate, aphysical entity floating around waiting to be married or whatever.

    Germ cells and the haploid DNA they carry are as influenced by the activities of a person as the rest of the body. They are also rapidly and repeatedly produced... using genetic material and the proteins produced in the rest of the body in their method of production and reproduction.

    Therefore, I, the purveyor of Carlisticism, maintain that

    1. Environment is the sole form of influence that "programs" a gene's genome sequence (thereby determining specific traits in an individual/species)

    2. Each surviving and successive generation of a family and/or species contributes a certain amount of programming to the future genetics of a family/gene pool and/or species.

    The influence of each generation's genetic contribution can be shown to be exponentially greater in relation to how long the genes have been associated with the species.

    For instance... the gene for the production of the Cerebellum is an ancient sequence andcommonly occurs in many species. This is because the gene(s) for its production was formed in response to the need to be mobile. It is basically the evolved cerebral ganglia of a planaria.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2006
  18. Jun 8, 2006 #17


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    The ORIGINS of genes (of the RNA and DNA molecules) has nothing to do with modern inheritance. Genes mutate randomly, the resulting physical organisms compete in the environment, and those whose genes built the most successful organism are the ones who leave more descendents, and hence pass there genes down. This is confirmed as I said by thousands of experiments. You do not find "acquired characteristics" passed down, period. What there may be no doubt of in your mind is no evidence that will convince anybody.

    Au contraire, mon frere, the sex cells are kept apart from the rest of the body in special organs.

    No, the planaria evolved a gene for cerebellum because the ones who had it were more mobile. It took a long time because the original gene had to mutate randomly and the more successful variants to leave descendents. You can argue and boast all you want, but those experiments contradict you.
  19. Jun 9, 2006 #18
    I recently read that gene mutation is or can be biased.
    Does that mean the mutations arent random?
  20. Jun 9, 2006 #19
    Ach! Let me try to save face by siting Genetic Engineering and mutations caused by radiation as generational influences that are immediately expressed in offspring. (I had to be "boasting" about something here!!)
  21. Jun 9, 2006 #20
    I have to enter this exhibit where Lamarckian geneological studies have been reconsidered as being partially true:

    "Epimutations" are a result of a genetic mutation caused by the various conditions found by the epidemiological research done on the environment. The environment changes the behaviour and structure of the gene. This is what I'm talking about.

    I think we already agreed that nutrition or lack of it will "turn on" and "turn off" genes respectively. This is seen in subjects when iron is lacking in their diet. This also points to more extreme geneological changes being caused by the same epidemilogical sources.

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