The shaping of animals’ minds

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Mind is seen as a collection of abilities to take decisions in biologically relevant situations. Mind shaping means to form habits and decision rules of how to proceed in a given situation. Problem-specific decision rules constitute a modular mind; adaptive mind-shaping is likely to be module-specific. We present examples from different behaviour ‘faculties’ throughout the animal kingdom, grouped according to important mind-shaping factors to illustrate three basically different mind-shaping processes: (I) external stimuli guide the differentiation of a nervous structure that controls a given behaviour; (II) information comes in to direct a fixed behaviour pattern to its biological goal, or to complete an inherited behaviour program; (III) specific stimuli activate or inactivate a pre-programmed behaviour. Mind-shaping phenomena found in the animal kingdom are suggested as ‘null-hypotheses’ when looking at how human minds might be shaped.


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