Whether for brains or bacteria, intelligence is all about food | Science News

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Whether for brains or bacteria, intelligence is all about food

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11:36am, July 15, 2011

If you wanted to write a computer program to simulate intelligence, you could start with two simple commands.

Get food: Yes. Be food: No.

Intelligence is all about enhancing your ability to survive, and getting food while avoiding being eaten are essential ingredients in any survival recipe. Evolution built brains to get food to the gut and keep bad things away. As Caltech neuro­biologist John Allman once expressed it, “the brain is the gut’s way of protecting itself — and making sure it gets good stuff into it.”

Actually, you don’t even need a brain; the most successful survivors in evolution history (by population for sure, perhaps also by biomass) are bacteria. Bacteria are in fact much like brains, possessing the ability to make intelligent choices. In the brain, information processing relies on nerve cells, or neurons, that are sensitive to specific chemicals in their surroundings. Each neuron’s oute

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