Help ATS with a contribution via PayPal:
learn more

Origin of Instinct - Mystery or Created?

page: 1
3
<<   2  3  4 >>

log in

join

posted on Jan, 3 2009 @ 08:09 AM
link   
Watching a programme about the behaviours of termites and the weaver bird and of the remarkable and complex structures they make - the termite mounds built at an exact angle to reduce exposure to the sun; and the weaver birds use of at least 3 complex knots to make its nest - it occurred to me that I would find it difficult to explain how the process of evolution would have caused the instinct of these two organisms to appear in a gradual way through the accumulation of mutations.

Termite Mounds
Link to Termites

Weaver Birds
Link to Weaver Bird Video

One of the answers to the mystery of evolution of instinct comes from the idea of phenotypic plasticity (a phenotype is a characteristic or feature, the plasticity refers to changeability).

Although I have a fairly open mind, I would still find it difficult to imagine how a weaver bird would have evolved to tie knots that my younger children would struggle to make. I would seriously struggle to explain how termites build such complex structures to artistic perfection whilst being blind, and I would find it very puzzling how termites and bees organise themselves into societies which bring to life Plato's ideal (utopian) state.

From a quick search on wiki, there is a definition of instinct:



Instinct is the inherent disposition of a living organism toward a particular behavior. Instincts are unlearned, inherited fixed action patterns of responses or reactions to certain kinds of stimuli. Examples of instinctual fixed action patterns can be observed in the behavior of animals, which perform various activities (sometimes complex) that are not based upon prior experience and do not depend on emotion or learning, such as reproduction, and feeding among insects. Sea turtles, hatched on a beach, automatically move toward the ocean, and honeybees communicate by dance the direction of a food source, all without formal instruction. Other examples include animal fighting, animal courtship behavior, internal escape functions, and building of nests.


Link to Instinct - Wiki

Moreover, the mystery of what can be termed by instinctive behaviour in humans can be described as:



Researchers use techniques such as inbreeding and knockout studies to separate learning and environment from genetic determination of behavioral traits. The definitions of what constitutes instinct in humans beyond infancy is conjectural.It could be said that as well as obvious instincts such as breathing, sex-drive, desire to communicate, etc., humans also have an instinct toward knowledge[citation needed]. The will to invent solutions to requirements, to present self and possessions aesthetically and to be organised economically, culturally, religiously and politically could be described as instincts to promote survival, which are further enhanced by learning which is not instinctive.
(I have placed emphasis on certain words)

Link to Instinct - Wiki

However being relatively open-minded I am open to comments that provide convincing evidence that evolution can also provide the basis for instinct in organisms.




posted on Jan, 3 2009 @ 08:18 AM
link   
I think it's a fair question you are raising. Intincts usually apply to the most basic behaviour. However these are behaviours that may originate from the limbic system. In this part of the brain there is a chance to develop learned behaviour (pavlov reflexes etc). The limbic system is not very sophisticated in terms of intelligence but it is a very important part in survival of any species that posses this part in their brain. Sometimes a combination of instinct together with the limbic system can cause unique behaviour.



posted on Jan, 3 2009 @ 08:40 AM
link   
Very good questions and a star for you!

Firstly, maybe termites have some kind of sense that can detect magnetic variation in the earth so they know which way is north and instinctively build their nests in that direction for example. As for the Utopian society, I believe this may be due to a "hive" mentality or consciousness. So rather than think of themselves as individuals as humans do, they see themselves as one part of a whole - the hive - thus no ego, so no conflict.

As for weavers, well perhaps it is cellular memory. So each off-spring will remember certain actions of its ancestors until they build up their repertoire of knots.

Not perfect I know, but I thought I would add my bit to start some people thinking and throwing their hat into the ring!



posted on Jan, 3 2009 @ 09:04 AM
link   
House-cats hand raised before their eyes and ears have opened make an attempt to cover up their feces in the litterbox even when they've never witnessed another cat doing so. Are they that disgusted by their own byproducts that they want to hide it? How did they learn what 'disgust' is?

Maybe all that 'junk DNA' has a purpose after all? Perhaps evolution has developed a way to transform learned experiences into some bio-chemical process... possibly encoding behaviors learned hundreds of generations ago into a structure to be utilized during transcription into creating pre-defined neural pathways in the central nervous systems of organisms which then manifests itself as instinct?



posted on Jan, 3 2009 @ 09:55 AM
link   
Bit of a false dilemma.

Why mystery or created? If we apply 'created' isn't that itself a mystery, lol.

OK, instincts and evolution. If we accept that many behaviours, particularly instinctual, are genetically-mediated and we can readily accept that genes are open to evolutionary influences, then what's the problem?

What you have done, Hero (Happy New Year, by the way), is to go to the complex extreme to allow a sense of mystery (a place for teleology) and go all incredulous.

If we look at more simplistic levels of instinct, such as sexual mating, which is complex enough, then we can see how genes and brain chemistry influence this behaviour easily enough. I would look into the vole example for this.

Some basic outline of the literature here.

So, why wouldn't the instinctual behaviour to build a complex nest or tie knots evolve? Is the behaviour really beyond some simple progressive sequential 'programming'? Because that's all FAPs are. A -> B -> C -> etc. And genetics would allow some flexibility and variation in such behaviours, and so open it up to selection.

Would magically importing such behaviours from some telic agent be a better explanation? Did the Telic agent also import the instinct for parasitic wasps to lay eggs inside particular caterpillers? Or how about the Fluke that infects ants brains and causes them to climb to the top of a blade of grass for munching by sheep or cow? How about the behaviour of a cuckoo chick?

Another interesting article about stereotyped FAPS and neurobiology.

linky

And an earlier one which looks at homology in the grooming FAP in rodents:

linky

Better thread than the norm, though.

[edit on 3-1-2009 by melatonin]



posted on Jan, 3 2009 @ 10:01 AM
link   

Originally posted by abecedarian
Maybe all that 'junk DNA' has a purpose after all? Perhaps evolution has developed a way to transform learned experiences into some bio-chemical process... possibly encoding behaviors learned hundreds of generations ago into a structure to be utilized during transcription into creating pre-defined neural pathways in the central nervous systems of organisms which then manifests itself as instinct?


My thoughts exactly. I too have my hunches about the so called 'Junk DNA' having some connection to instinctual behaviors. Makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint to ensure residual memory is transfered to the next generation to give them a better chance of survival.

Coupled with that, natural selection would also suggest that creating stronger and better equipped offspring is the way to go. Instinct may even be some kind of redundant system that gives young offspring a better chance of survival should the parents be killed.

IRM



posted on Jan, 9 2009 @ 07:16 PM
link   

mbushrocks

posted on 3/1/2009 at 09:18 PM
I think it's a fair question you are raising. Intincts usually apply to the most basic behaviour. However these are behaviours that may originate from the limbic system. In this part of the brain there is a chance to develop learned behaviour (pavlov reflexes etc). The limbic system is not very sophisticated in terms of intelligence but it is a very important part in survival of any species that posses this part in their brain. Sometimes a combination of instinct together with the limbic system can cause unique behaviour.


Sorry about the late reply. Family matters and the restart of the new school term kept me away from making any quick responses.

I have no problem that the brain is central to instinctive behaviour. However, the sheer complexity of behaviours, for example, in insects like bees which favour survival of sister bees in preference to offspring, is mysterious. Yes there are theories about how instinct arises but they are only theories at present even though there are a large number of living subjects ( animal and insect species) which can be used for experimentation.


WatchNLearn

Very good questions and a star for you!


Thank you. This has been puzzling me for some time but I had to air my concerns in the correct thread.


Firstly, maybe termites have some kind of sense that can detect magnetic variation in the earth so they know which way is north and instinctively build their nests in that direction for example. As for the Utopian society, I believe this may be due to a "hive" mentality or consciousness. So rather than think of themselves as individuals as humans do, they see themselves as one part of a whole - the hive - thus no ego, so no conflict.


I think the biological basis for their Platonic caste system is unknown -unless someone can tell me better (the Utopia part was originally coined by Thomas More I think). There are workers, reproductives and soldiers. As for a collective consciousness, this is getting into territory that would be unacceptable to those that favour a Godless evolution.


As for weavers, well perhaps it is cellular memory. So each off-spring will remember certain actions of its ancestors until they build up their repertoire of knots.


If by cellular memory you mean that there are a group of genes that are master controls or switches for other genes, then it is scientifically plausible. However, if you mean the information is slowly added at each generation through changed genes, that is called Lamarckian inheritance and is unlikely. You would need to think of a mechanism to transport the 'changed' genes back to the germ line cells - sperm or egg. I don't think such a mechanism exists.


Not perfect I know, but I thought I would add my bit to start some people thinking and throwing their hat into the ring!
Your contribution is valuable and welcomed.



posted on Jan, 9 2009 @ 07:49 PM
link   

abecedarian

posted on 3/1/2009 at 10:04 PM
House-cats hand raised before their eyes and ears have opened make an attempt to cover up their feces in the litterbox even when they've never witnessed another cat doing so. Are they that disgusted by their own byproducts that they want to hide it? How did they learn what 'disgust' is?


Excellent point and the standard answer will be that it is due to a set of genes and gene switches that control gene expression that have been altered by environmental stresses over millions of years of evolution. In other words - 'we don't know but millions of years of evolution magically transforms stoats into humans and whales- just give us a million years and we will have all the answers for you.'


melatonin

posted on 3/1/2009 at 10:55 PM
Bit of a false dilemma.

Why mystery or created? If we apply 'created' isn't that itself a mystery, lol.

OK, instincts and evolution. If we accept that many behaviours, particularly instinctual, are genetically-mediated and we can readily accept that genes are open to evolutionary influences, then what's the problem?

What you have done, Hero (Happy New Year, by the way), is to go to the complex extreme to allow a sense of mystery (a place for teleology) and go all incredulous.


A belated Happy New to you and your loved ones melatonin. Yes that is exactly what I intended. To me it is an amazing mystery because of the sheer complexity of behaviour demonstrated. For example, if the weaver bird messes up its first knot, it has lost a huge amount of energy in messing up and could affect its survival and that of its progeny. What no-one can explain to me is how we got this incredibly complex behaviour. To digress for a minute, even if you look at a single cell nucleolus - the dark bit in the nucleus which contains ribosomal RNA and shoRNA's etc... the complexity of control is absolutely incredible and near unbelievable.


If we look at more simplistic levels of instinct, such as sexual mating, which is complex enough, then we can see how genes and brain chemistry influence this behaviour easily enough. I would look into the vole example for this.


I looked at the vole example and it looks as if transgenic studies have solved the problem of instinct once and for all. However, I would wish to examine the proteomics and genomics of the study in more detail before I commit myself to applauding the work. Any wide-ranging brain alterations could affect the mediation of brain functions by a 'soul' in my opinion.


So, why wouldn't the instinctual behaviour to build a complex nest or tie knots evolve? Is the behaviour really beyond some simple progressive sequential 'programming'? Because that's all FAPs are. A -> B -> C -> etc. And genetics would allow some flexibility and variation in such behaviours, and so open it up to selection.


The thing is melatonin, I assume you have heard of the rate determining step in a reaction in simple Chemistry, that step A is absolutely necessary to get correct for step B and C to occur in your scenario. The bird has to get it right first time. Small steps to attach the nest to a twig will completely fail as you can see in the video.


Would magically importing such behaviours from some telic agent be a better explanation? Did the Telic agent also import the instinct for parasitic wasps to lay eggs inside particular caterpillers?

Or how about the Fluke that infects ants brains and causes them to climb to the top of a blade of grass for munching by sheep or cow?

How about the behaviour of a cuckoo chick?


My answer - yes, yes and yes. If the theory of evolution does not involve a soul, I cannot accept it in its entirety. Although I am willing to accept some evolution has occurred in animals and plants etc... I am willing to accept that the Creator gave humans no equivalent of an instinct similar to animals and that he created the souls of all other creatures mediating their actions through brains (or nuclear control centres in plants) which are hard-wired to behave in a certain way.

Surely theism in all its multifarious forms is based on the reward and punishment of souls in the afterlife. It comes with the territory.



Better thread than the norm, though.


Welcome back.



posted on Jan, 10 2009 @ 09:39 AM
link   

Originally posted by Heronumber0
A belated Happy New to you and your loved ones melatonin. Yes that is exactly what I intended. To me it is an amazing mystery because of the sheer complexity of behaviour demonstrated.

For example, if the weaver bird messes up its first knot, it has lost a huge amount of energy in messing up and could affect its survival and that of its progeny. What no-one can explain to me is how we got this incredibly complex behaviour.


If it messes up the nest the male doesn't mate at all


The selection pressure must be enormous, because these behaviours are affected by both sexual and natural selection. The behaviour is intricately embedded in reproduction success. So the energy used would have to be weighed against the pressure to mate and reproduce.


I looked at the vole example and it looks as if transgenic studies have solved the problem of instinct once and for all. However, I would wish to examine the proteomics and genomics of the study in more detail before I commit myself to applauding the work. Any wide-ranging brain alterations could affect the mediation of brain functions by a 'soul' in my opinion.


Fair enough, I have only come across the vole example from a behavioural neuroscience/psychology of morality point of view, so I'm not hot on that particular literature. Perhaps there are such studies, but the research is quite compelling.


The thing is melatonin, I assume you have heard of the rate determining step in a reaction in simple Chemistry, that step A is absolutely necessary to get correct for step B and C to occur in your scenario. The bird has to get it right first time. Small steps to attach the nest to a twig will completely fail as you can see in the video.


I don't really see the problem, to be honest. The are numerous species of weaver birds which have varying approaches to nest-building. I'm not sure anyone has performed homology studies on this behaviour (cf. grooming), would be interesting to say the least. The fact that the females do choose mates through their nest building ability and its location puts substantial pressure on male individuals within a species, and I'm sure practice makes perfect. Thus, we likely have a instinctual behaviour which is open to some learning (e.g., practice honing behaviour).

Indeed, the behaviour appears to be open to motivational influences (Collias appears to have done a lot of work on nest-building):

elibrary.unm.edu...

I would speculate that this would be influenced by hormones which kick in during mating season, probably mediated by dopamine in the basal ganglia (same area that buggers up in Parkinson's). Thus, lower motivation as the hormones kick in and drop off.


I am willing to accept that the Creator gave humans no equivalent of an instinct similar to animals and that he created the souls of all other creatures mediating their actions through brains (or nuclear control centres in plants) which are hard-wired to behave in a certain way.


Heh, you can accept whatever you like, Hero.


Surely theism in all its multifarious forms is based on the reward and punishment of souls in the afterlife. It comes with the territory.


Indeed.



posted on Jan, 10 2009 @ 12:01 PM
link   

The selection pressure must be enormous, because these behaviours are affected by both sexual and natural selection. The behaviour is intricately embedded in reproduction success. So the energy used would have to be weighed against the pressure to mate and reproduce.


I think that I sense a consensus of biologists moving away from a natural selection argument as central to the evolution argument, due to the development of research in epigenetics and thoughts of phenotypic plasticity and the findings of population genetics. If you are thinking at a natural selection level, you might find yourself in decreasing company due to the New Biological Synthesis (which you already know about).



Fair enough, I have only come across the vole example from a behavioural neuroscience/psychology of morality point of view, so I'm not hot on that particular literature. Perhaps there are such studies, but the research is quite compelling.


But why the vole as an experimental subject? The question arises because it is a system where apparent instinctive behaviour is amenable to change and, more importantly, change is actually seen. If you try the same with other animals and there is no dramatic result, the findings would be quickly buried in a filing cabinet to gather dust for a few years. You know how it works in research... There is a bias for a research project to add to existing knowledge or hypothesis. If the study is replicated in other animals or insects, then there is room for reviewing the findings. n=1 is not a good sample. It is the example of my old Dad rattling on about his theories of the world and for me to believe his hypotheses without a wider purview. I just wonder if you can distinguish between the effect of a single gene on behaviour and pleiotropic effects due to the genetic changes - I suspect you cannot do so.

I seem to remember something about how psychotropic drugs affected the web building instinct of a spider. In fact, here it is: Spiders on drugs

What I am saying is that the brain is, to say the least, quite complex.



posted on Jan, 10 2009 @ 02:20 PM
link   

Originally posted by Heronumber0
I think that I sense a consensus of biologists moving away from a natural selection argument as central to the evolution argument, due to the development of research in epigenetics and thoughts of phenotypic plasticity and the findings of population genetics. If you are thinking at a natural selection level, you might find yourself in decreasing company due to the New Biological Synthesis (which you already know about).


Don't think it's so much moving away and centrality, just that epigenetics is a new trendy area - lots of space for new research. Epigenetic mechanisms are still heritable and so open to descent with modification.


Weismann Rules! OK? Epigenetics and the Lamarckian temptation
Author: Haig, David1

Source: Biology and Philosophy, Volume 22, Number 3, June 2007 , pp. 415-428(14)

Abstract:

August Weismann rejected the inheritance of acquired characters on the grounds that changes to the soma cannot produce the kind of changes to the germ-plasm that would result in the altered character being transmitted to subsequent generations. His intended distinction, between germ-plasm and soma, was closer to the modern distinction between genotype and phenotype than to the modern distinction between germ cells and somatic cells. Recently, systems of epigenetic inheritance have been claimed to make possible the inheritance of acquired characters. I argue that the sense in which these claims are true does not challenge fundamental tenets of neo-Darwinism. Epigenetic inheritance expands the range of options available to genes but evolutionary adaptation remains the product of natural selection of `random' variation.


Natural selection ain't going anywhere. Of course, modern evolution is more extensive than just natural selection.


But why the vole as an experimental subject? The question arises because it is a system where apparent instinctive behaviour is amenable to change and, more importantly, change is actually seen.


Why not? You appear to have it backwards. One set of voles are mongamous, the related voles promiscuous. It's an ideal scenario.

The voles are easy to study and have clear differences in mating behaviour/fidelity. You can try to minimise the findings, but they speak for themselves. The way I have come across them is through neuroethics (Patricia Churchland). Indeed, it appears that vasopressin genes may underpin similar behaviours in humans...


Genetic variation in the vasopressin receptor 1a gene (AVPR1A) associates with pair-bonding behavior in humans

Hasse Walum*,†,‡, Lars Westberg*,§, Susanne Henningsson§, Jenae M. Neiderhiser¶, David Reiss‖, Wilmar Igl*, Jody M. Ganiban**, Erica L. Spotts††, Nancy L. Pedersen*, Elias Eriksson§, and Paul Lichtenstein*
+Author Affiliations

Abstract
Pair-bonding has been suggested to be a critical factor in the evolutionary development of the social brain. The brain neuropeptide arginine vasopressin (AVP) exerts an important influence on pair-bonding behavior in voles. There is a strong association between a polymorphic repeat sequence in the 5′ flanking region of the gene (avpr1a) encoding one of the AVP receptor subtypes (V1aR), and proneness for monogamous behavior in males of this species. It is not yet known whether similar mechanisms are important also for human pair-bonding. Here, we report an association between one of the human AVPR1A repeat polymorphisms (RS3) and traits reflecting pair-bonding behavior in men, including partner bonding, perceived marital problems, and marital status, and show that the RS3 genotype of the males also affects marital quality as perceived by their spouses. These results suggest an association between a single gene and pair-bonding behavior in humans, and indicate that the well characterized influence of AVP on pair-bonding in voles may be of relevance also for humans.



Science 7 November 2008:
Vol. 322. no. 5903, pp. 900 - 904
DOI: 10.1126/science.1158668
Prev | Table of Contents | Next

Review
Oxytocin, Vasopressin, and the Neurogenetics of Sociality
Zoe R. Donaldson1 and Larry J. Young1,2*
There is growing evidence that the neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin modulate complex social behavior and social cognition. These ancient neuropeptides display a marked conservation in gene structure and expression, yet diversity in the genetic regulation of their receptors seems to underlie natural variation in social behavior, both between and within species. Human studies are beginning to explore the roles of these neuropeptides in social cognition and behavior and suggest that variation in the genes encoding their receptors may contribute to variation in human social behavior by altering brain function. Understanding the neurobiology and neurogenetics of social cognition and behavior has important implications, both clinically and for society.

1 Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.
2 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA.



If you try the same with other animals and there is no dramatic result, the findings would be quickly buried in a filing cabinet to gather dust for a few years. You know how it works in research...


Poisoning the well doesn't suit you. Some great research coming through in the area of behavioural and imaging genetics, particularly that related to serotonin alleles and emotion regulation.


There is a bias for a research project to add to existing knowledge or hypothesis. If the study is replicated in other animals or insects, then there is room for reviewing the findings. n=1 is not a good sample. It is the example of my old Dad rattling on about his theories of the world and for me to believe his hypotheses without a wider purview. I just wonder if you can distinguish between the effect of a single gene on behaviour and pleiotropic effects due to the genetic changes - I suspect you cannot do so.


But I doubt you've even really looked for such research. As noted above, these studies do exist. The problem is picking apart genes vs. environment. Here's another on human behaviour and genetics...


Nature 452, 997-1001 (24 April 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature06858; Received 13 November 2007; Accepted 20 February 2008; Published online 2 April 2008

Genetic variation in human NPY expression affects stress response and emotion

Zhifeng Zhou1,9, Guanshan Zhu1,9,10, Ahmad R. Hariri2, Mary-Anne Enoch1, David Scott3, Rajita Sinha4, Matti Virkkunen5, Deborah C. Mash6, Robert H. Lipsky1, Xian-Zhang Hu1, Colin A. Hodgkinson1, Ke Xu1, Beata Buzas1, Qiaoping Yuan1, Pei-Hong Shen1, Robert E. Ferrell2, Stephen B. Manuck2, Sarah M. Brown2, Richard L. Hauger7, Christian S. Stohler8, Jon-Kar Zubieta3 & David Goldman1

Understanding inter-individual differences in stress response requires the explanation of genetic influences at multiple phenotypic levels, including complex behaviours and the metabolic responses of brain regions to emotional stimuli. Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is anxiolytic1, 2 and its release is induced by stress3. NPY is abundantly expressed in regions of the limbic system that are implicated in arousal and in the assignment of emotional valences to stimuli and memories4, 5, 6. Here we show that haplotype-driven NPY expression predicts brain responses to emotional and stress challenges and also inversely correlates with trait anxiety. NPY haplotypes predicted levels of NPY messenger RNA in post-mortem brain and lymphoblasts, and levels of plasma NPY. Lower haplotype-driven NPY expression predicted higher emotion-induced activation of the amygdala, as well as diminished resiliency as assessed by pain/stress-induced activations of endogenous opioid neurotransmission in various brain regions. A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP rs16147) located in the promoter region alters NPY expression in vitro and seems to account for more than half of the variation in expression in vivo. These convergent findings are consistent with the function of NPY as an anxiolytic peptide and help to explain inter-individual variation in resiliency to stress, a risk factor for many diseases.



I seem to remember something about how psychotropic drugs affected the web building instinct of a spider. In fact, here it is: Spiders on drugs

What I am saying is that the brain is, to say the least, quite complex.


Of course!

But seeing a physical substance influence the biochemistry of the brain, and hence influence behaviour, is more good evidence for the materialistic view of the brain/mind. No need for ghosts in the machine.

You can add one if it floats ya boat, but it adds nada of interest. Not much different from adding pixies to gravity.

[edit on 10-1-2009 by melatonin]



posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 03:21 PM
link   

Originally posted by melatonin

Don't think it's so much moving away and centrality, just that epigenetics is a new trendy area - lots of space for new research. Epigenetic mechanisms are still heritable and so open to descent with modification.

Natural selection ain't going anywhere. Of course, modern evolution is more extensive than just natural selection.


Most of your arguments depend on natural selection, based upon behaviour (including mate choice), food sources or other environmental stresses. I am merely commenting that mere selectionism is now not as central to the evolution argument as it was once.

Moreover. did you know that the weaver bird experiment you linked to took place in a modified large cage and that the birds were given food and shelter in the winter, essentially making them domesticated subjects. This is important because behaviour changes could occur in the case of the 'unmotivated bird' that may have stayed that way because it was being fed.

By the way, a working definition for instinct, albeit from wiki, is:

Instincts are unlearned, inherited fixed action patterns of responses or reactions to certain kinds of stimuli
The unlearned bit is important.

Link to Instinct

Why not? You appear to have it backwards. One set of voles are mongamous, the related voles promiscuous. It's an ideal scenario.


The voles are easy to study and have clear differences in mating behaviour/fidelity. You can try to minimise the findings, but they speak for themselves. The way I have come across them is through neuroethics (Patricia Churchland). Indeed, it appears that vasopressin genes may underpin similar behaviours in humans...



Genetic variation in the vasopressin receptor 1a gene (AVPR1A) associates with pair-bonding behavior in humans ...

Here, we report an association between one of the human AVPR1A repeat polymorphisms (RS3) and traits reflecting pair-bonding behavior in men, including partner bonding, perceived marital problems, and marital status, and show that the RS3 genotype of the males also affects marital quality as perceived by their spouses. These results suggest an association between a single gene and pair-bonding behavior in humans, and indicate that the well characterized influence of AVP on pair-bonding in voles may be of relevance also for humans.


Science 7 November 2008:
Vol. 322. no. 5903, pp. 900 - 904

Humans are not voles and can overcome what may be termed as instinct in voles. Moreover, the effect of single gene knockout or single gene polymorphy studies are dangerous to make inferences from due to possible pleiotropic responses. I can give you two examples, phenylketonuria and sickle cell anaemia. One should take human studies bearing down on single gene polymorphisms with a touch of salt.

Hang on here, instinct in humans? Can you override your instinct for sex with an attractive member of the opposite sex - yes of course you can. Can you overcome initial feelings of disgust at smelling an extremely unwashed person - yes you can. In fact:


Other sociologists argue that humans have no instincts, defining them as a "complex pattern of behavior present in every specimen of a particular species, that is innate, and that cannot be overridden." Said sociologists argue that drives such as sex and hunger cannot be considered instincts, as they can be overridden. This definitory argument is present in many introductory sociology and biology textbooks,[4] but is still hotly debated.


Link to wiki



from melatonin: Poisoning the well doesn't suit you. Some great research coming through in the area of behavioural and imaging genetics, particularly that related to serotonin alleles and emotion regulation.


I offer an unreserved apology to the honest and unbiased scientists I worked with in my previous life.


But I doubt you've even really looked for such research. As noted above, these studies do exist. The problem is picking apart genes vs. environment. Here's another on human behaviour and genetics...


Nature 452, 997-1001 (24 April 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature06858; Received 13 November 2007; Accepted 20 February 2008; Published online 2 April 2008

Genetic variation in human NPY expression affects stress response and emotion


I haven't looked for many examples, you are correct here but I think we should stick to instinct in animals for the reasons mentioned above about instinct being overcome by 'average behaviour' humans.

Here is the argument in short so that others can also participate. The instinctive response of various species shows behaviours that are far too complex to be explained by current theories of Natural Selection. The behaviour of termites and bees is far too complex to be explained away by genetic arguments because the genetic studies depend on gene knockout which can affect more than one system.




[edit on 11/2/2009 by Heronumber0]



posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 10:29 PM
link   
Dear Rev. Paley,

Your watch is in the post.

Yours faithfully,
N. Selection

PS: I have conveyed your birthday greetings to Prof. Darwin, who sends his regards.



posted on Feb, 12 2009 @ 03:55 PM
link   
reply to post by Astyanax
 


Very funny Asyanax, :-) and you are right. I believe that instinct comprises a range of outputs, if you will, that are too complex to be picked apart by single gene knockout studies or by simlple Natural Selection arguments.

The Yucca moth seems to be a unique pollinator of yucca plants and is quite difficult to explain either by gradualism or genetic drift. I will come back to this later if you wish.

Oh, and incidentally I believe that Darwin and Dawkins are in the company of intelligent scientists. I do look at shades of grey mate.



posted on Feb, 12 2009 @ 08:30 PM
link   

Originally posted by Heronumber0
Most of your arguments depend on natural selection, based upon behaviour (including mate choice), food sources or other environmental stresses. I am merely commenting that mere selectionism is now not as central to the evolution argument as it was once.


If you mean it's not the only part of the argument, then yeah.


Moreover. did you know that the weaver bird experiment you linked to took place in a modified large cage and that the birds were given food and shelter in the winter, essentially making them domesticated subjects. This is important because behaviour changes could occur in the case of the 'unmotivated bird' that may have stayed that way because it was being fed.


Heh, sometimes has to happen. Experiments like that do have benefits.

Your caveat isn't so compelling, though. You seem to arguing against seasonal breeding or something.


By the way, a working definition for instinct, albeit from wiki, is:

Instincts are unlearned, inherited fixed action patterns of responses or reactions to certain kinds of stimuli
The unlearned bit is important.


I guess so. So the fact that weaver birds hone their nest building and their ability and motivation changes over the year means that it isn't instinctual?

I tend to think not. It just shows the hole in your argument. Hormones are important in such behaviours. They are latent and then kick in when influenced by biochemical changes. Why wouldn't an organism be able to hone an instinct with experience?

The FAP is present, it just becomes fine-tuned and responds to biochemical triggers along with environmental.


Humans are not voles and can overcome what may be termed as instinct in voles. Moreover, the effect of single gene knockout or single gene polymorphy studies are dangerous to make inferences from due to possible pleiotropic responses. I can give you two examples, phenylketonuria and sickle cell anaemia. One should take human studies bearing down on single gene polymorphisms with a touch of salt.


But they are not trying to make grand claims on single-gene polymorphisms - they are associations which probably account for a proportion of variability. Moreover, these are very embryonic studies.


Hang on here, instinct in humans? Can you override your instinct for sex with an attractive member of the opposite sex - yes of course you can. Can you overcome initial feelings of disgust at smelling an extremely unwashed person - yes you can.


Aye, we have a nice big frontal lobe. We can act against many of our motivational drives. We can even bypass our prime reproductive urge by using contraception.

Still says nothing about us being immune from instinct. Just an ability to override our biological drives allowing for greater behavioural flexibility.


In fact:


Other sociologists argue that humans have no instincts, defining them as a "complex pattern of behavior present in every specimen of a particular species, that is innate, and that cannot be overridden." Said sociologists argue that drives such as sex and hunger cannot be considered instincts, as they can be overridden. This definitory argument is present in many introductory sociology and biology textbooks,[4] but is still hotly debated.


Link to wiki


Whatever would we do without sociologists?

lol

:yawn:

:achoo!:

It's catching ya know.


I offer an unreserved apology to the honest and unbiased scientists I worked with in my previous life.


I'm sure they'll be chuffed.


I haven't looked for many examples, you are correct here but I think we should stick to instinct in animals for the reasons mentioned above about instinct being overcome by 'average behaviour' humans.


Humans are animals. I shouldn't have to tell a biology teacher that! lol

Probably. But earlier you complained that the studies were done on voles, the grooming study in rodents (mammals), and for some reason n=1 issues. So I showed how they might also apply to higher mammals. If we want to understand the influences on our own behaviour, (and I'll apologise in advance for this bias) which massively interests me more than that of a spider, then mammals are a good target for study.


Here is the argument in short so that others can also participate. The instinctive response of various species shows behaviours that are far too complex to be explained by current theories of Natural Selection. The behaviour of termites and bees is far too complex to be explained away by genetic arguments because the genetic studies depend on gene knockout which can affect more than one system.


As noted by Astyanax, I'm sure Zombie Darwin would be chuffed that his intellectual inferior, Zombie Paley, got a look in during his year.

[edit on 12-2-2009 by melatonin]



posted on Feb, 13 2009 @ 04:01 AM
link   
There is no ontological difference between instinctive behaviour and any other biological process


Originally posted by Heronumber0
I believe that instinct comprises a range of outputs, if you will, that are too complex to be picked apart by single gene knockout studies or by simple Natural Selection arguments.

On y va encore... seeking to revive the Paleyan argument by setting up the straw man in a different corner of the field. Didn't you know, Hero, that a bad cheque will bounce no matter at which bank you present it?


The Yucca moth seems to be a unique pollinator of yucca plants and is quite difficult to explain either by gradualism or genetic drift. I will come back to this later if you wish.

Oh, don't bother. Melatonin's the biologist; he understands that stuff and has both the kindness and the patience to sit and argue details with you. Frankly speaking, I'm not in the least impressed by these tiny catches you return with after months of trawling diligently through the scientific record because, as far as I am concerned, your argument falls at the first fence: instinct is intrinsically no more complex than any other biological function.

Indeed, once you ease that gatecrashing, welcome-outstaying ghost out the front door of the machine, it is perfectly clear that all biological function is ontologically and phenomenologically identical to instinct. If an eye can evolve, so can the ability to attract the owner of that eye with a well-woven nest.

Dr. Selection sends his regrets, sir, and advises that he will not attend his own obsequies, for reasons so admirably articulated in similar circumstances by Mr. Clemens.



posted on Feb, 14 2009 @ 02:35 AM
link   

by Asty Oh, don't bother. Melatonin's the biologist; he understands that stuff and has both the kindness and the patience to sit and argue details with you. Frankly speaking, I'm not in the least impressed by these tiny catches you return with after months of trawling diligently through the scientific record because, as far as I am concerned, your argument falls at the first fence: instinct is intrinsically no more complex than any other biological function.


Her's where you stop being funny and decide to avoid the issue entirely; either because you cannot come up with an explanation or you fear the answer, so you turn to sarcasm. I could not return to these Boards for weeks due to 24/7 headaches that were very painful- I would not wish them on anyone else but I have referred to the causes on other Boards on ATS. I did not trawl the literature because I do not have the time - I am a teacher by profession and a parent and husband - these things take up most of my time. It is only in my spare moments that I can return to answer questions. However, I want you to read up on the yucca moth and give me a reasonable scientific explanation rather than the old, rather worn-out references to ontology of biological processes.

Any reasonable person can see the problems with instinct- I hope, at the least you are reasonable, and not running from the idea of Design.

[edit on 14/2/2009 by Heronumber0]



posted on Feb, 14 2009 @ 03:39 AM
link   

I guess so. So the fact that weaver birds hone their nest building and their ability and motivation changes over the year means that it isn't instinctual?

I tend to think not. It just shows the hole in your argument. Hormones are important in such behaviours. They are latent and then kick in when influenced by biochemical changes. Why wouldn't an organism be able to hone an instinct with experience?


Not my main point. It probably ends up supporting your point but still needs to be mentioned. True instinct is unlearned and hard-wired to give FAP. However, my argument was to point out that the environment and the food supply needs to be as natural as possible otherwise you have created artificial conditions. For example, cells that are cultured in vitro from the brain will show characteristics of the brain when exposed to neuroactive compounds. However, cells that have been cultured in vitro are showing cell behaviours that are not normal. For example adhesion to plastic and polyploidy or aneuploidy on being cultured. In vivo studies would be more characteristic of responses from the brain. The experimenters in the weaver bird study could have used an alternative to a large cage and pseudo-domestication of the birds.


The FAP is present, it just becomes fine-tuned and responds to biochemical triggers along with environmental.


I did 10 minutes of trawling and found nothing about this, references please.


from melatonin But they are not trying to make grand claims on single-gene polymorphisms - they are associations which probably account for a proportion of variability. Moreover, these are very embryonic studies.


I accept that the studies are embryonic but remember the definition of instinct - unlearned and inherited Fixed Action Patterns (FAP). I accept that associations are being made. However we are talking about repetitive behaviours I think, which can be over-ridden by other parts of the brain. Can we call it instinct - I don't know the answer but I think there are a few human instincts which babies show automatically. Can you call it instinct when a middle-aged man runs out to polish his door knob every time he hears the door-bell? Somehow I don't think this fits into your Natural Selection framework


Still says nothing about us being immune from instinct. Just an ability to override our biological drives allowing for greater behavioural flexibility.


Probably. But earlier you complained that the studies were done on voles, the grooming study in rodents (mammals), and for some reason n=1 issues. So I showed how they might also apply to higher mammals. If we want to understand the influences on our own behaviour, (and I'll apologise in advance for this bias) which massively interests me more than that of a spider, then mammals are a good target for study.


If I quoted to you a study where n=1, you would rightly condemn it for a lack of reliability. I am gang stalked and attacked by micro/terawaves. If I were to mention it here you would advise me to see a good psychiatrist because I would exhibit signs of paranoia. However, I have found 500 other people in the UK alone, most of whom have not been referred to the Health Services who exhibit the same 'symptoms'. Therefore I know that it is a deliberate and evil action. Let's get back to Science.


As noted by Astyanax, I'm sure Zombie Darwin would be chuffed that his intellectual inferior, Zombie Paley, got a look in during his year.


Darwin was an excellent scientist, Paley was an excellent logician. So far, I am willing to believe that evolution plays a role in instinctive behaviour. Single gene knockout does not convinve me that is the case. I was not going to come back to this post due to pain issues but it is always good to debate with a person of intellectual honesty.

Can I ask you to explain this using a biological framework:

The Yucca Moth


The genus Yucca is one of the most remarkable groups of flowering plants native to the New World. It includes about 40 species, most of which occur in the southwestern United States and Mexico. Although they are often associated with arid desert regions, some species are native to the southeastern United States and the Caribbean islands. What truly sets this genus apart from other flowering plants is their unique method of pollination: A specific moth that is genetically programmed for stuffing a little ball of pollen into the cup-shaped stigma of each flower. Like fig wasps and acacia ants, the relationship is mutually beneficial to both partners, and is vital for the survival of both plant and insect. In fact, yuccas cultivated in the Old World, where yucca moths are absent, will not produce seeds unless they are hand pollinated.


Link

My question is melatonin. How can this unique interaction come about in evolutionary terms because the yucca plant cannot be fertilised by any other means. Moreover, where is the learning process here? It seems to be one hit or survival is difficult? Is this an argument for Design?

Piccies:

Yucca moth and plant

[img]
[/img]

[img]
[/img]



posted on Feb, 14 2009 @ 10:38 AM
link   

Originally posted by Heronumber0
Not my main point. It probably ends up supporting your point but still needs to be mentioned. True instinct is unlearned and hard-wired to give FAP. However, my argument was to point out that the environment and the food supply needs to be as natural as possible otherwise you have created artificial conditions.


I'm sure they did so. Any proper experiment will lower ecological validity. Just the way it is. But you just want to handwave.


For example, cells that are cultured in vitro from the brain will show characteristics of the brain when exposed to neuroactive compounds. However, cells that have been cultured in vitro are showing cell behaviours that are not normal. For example adhesion to plastic and polyploidy or aneuploidy on being cultured. In vivo studies would be more characteristic of responses from the brain. The experimenters in the weaver bird study could have used an alternative to a large cage and pseudo-domestication of the birds.


I'm not sure that's entirely comparable.


I did 10 minutes of trawling and found nothing about this, references please.


lol, do the birds make nests and mate all year round? Do young birds make nests as successfully as older birds? What influences their motivation to do so? Took me one search to find this...


Sex differences in the response to environmental
cues regulating seasonal reproduction in birds

Gregory F. Ball1,* and Ellen D. Ketterson2
1Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 North Charles Street,
Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
2Department of Biology, Indiana University, 1001 E. Third Street Bloomington, IN 47405, USA

Although it is axiomatic thatmales and females differ in relation to many aspects of reproduction related to physiology, morphology and behaviour, relatively little is known about possible sex differences in the response to cues from the environment that control the timing of seasonal breeding. This review concerns the environmental regulation of seasonal reproduction in birds and howthis process might differ between males and females. From an evolutionary perspective, the sexes can be expected to differ in the cues they use to time reproduction. Female reproductive fitness typically varies more as a function of fecundity selection, while male reproductive fitness varies more as a function sexual selection. Consequently, variation in the precision of the timing of egg laying is likely to have more serious fitness consequences for females than for males, while variation in the timing of recrudescence of the male testes and accompanying territory establishment and courtship are likely to have more serious fitness consequences for males. From the proximate perspective, sex differences in the control of reproduction could be regulated via the response to photoperiod or in the relative importance and action of supplementary factors (such as temperature, food supply, nesting sites and behavioural interactions) that adjust the timing of reproduction so that it is in step with local conditions. For example, there is clear evidence in several temperate zone avian species that females require both supplementary factors and long photoperiods in order for follicles to develop, while males can attain full gonadal size based on photoperiodic stimulation alone. The neuroendocrine basis of these sex differences is not well understood, though there are many candidate mechanisms in the brain as well as throughout the entire hypothalamo–pituitary–gonadal axis that might be important.

Keywords: photoperiodism; circannual rhythms; sex differences

www.indiana.edu...

Same reason why birds only do their mating calls during breeding season. Their biology reacts to environmental cues, which influences neuroendocrinology, which leads to mating behaviours (singing, nest-building etc). Wouldn't be much use if they just went around building nests all year round.

So what the study from Collias suggests is that the motivation to build nests changes over time. As the mating processes initially kick in, the motivation would likely be poorer, but as the hormones and biology hit peak, motivation would be stronger. As I said, I was speculating earlier, as I havn't researched it in birds, but it is probably mediated by the basal ganglia - which is an interface between emotion and motivation areas of the brain and the motor areas. So, for example, the dysfunctional stereotypical behaviours found in Tourette's probably result from some form of basal ganglia issue (either intrinsic or regulatory).

Sorry for coming back to human brains, but I know them better. Here's the article I posted earlier...

Stereotyped FAPS and neurobiology

That study shows how genetic influences on dopamine (striatal - a part of the BG) alter FAP strength. And a new one on singing in birds:


The anterior forebrain pathway in songbirds is a specialization of
the avian basal ganglia pathway and is prominent in males that sing,
but seem to be absent or incomplete in females that do not sing.
We studied the connectivity in females in the in vitro slice preparation
by applying the tracer Fluoro Ruby, biotinylated dextran
amine, and cholera toxin B.We identi¢ed (1) retrograde labeled
neurons in the lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior nidopallium
(LMAN) projecting to the medial striatum (MSt), and (2)
we identi¢ed ¢bers in the MSt labeled by anterograde transport
after tracer injection into LMAN. Our data clearly demonstrate
the existence of a cortico-basal ganglia pathway in female birds.
NeuroReport16:21^24c 2005

www.uni-kiel.de...

Actually quite an interesting paper. So males have the pathways for singing and learning new song, whereas the females appear to have a pathway for perception and memory of male songs. An aside, of course.

But these are the areas of the brain where many instinctive behaviours are likely to be embedded in 'higher' organisms.


I accept that the studies are embryonic but remember the definition of instinct - unlearned and inherited Fixed Action Patterns (FAP). I accept that associations are being made.


And also note my later comments about why I brought the studies up.


However we are talking about repetitive behaviours I think, which can be over-ridden by other parts of the brain. Can we call it instinct - I don't know the answer but I think there are a few human instincts which babies show automatically. Can you call it instinct when a middle-aged man runs out to polish his door knob every time he hears the door-bell? Somehow I don't think this fits into your Natural Selection framework


I wouldn't have thought so.


If I quoted to you a study where n=1, you would rightly condemn it for a lack of reliability.


Maybe, but I think I would moreso suggest further studies. I'm quite used to seeing n=1 studies (i.e., lesion studies). They can be informative and motivate further research.


I am gang stalked and attacked by micro/terawaves. If I were to mention it here you would advise me to see a good psychiatrist because I would exhibit signs of paranoia. However, I have found 500 other people in the UK alone, most of whom have not been referred to the Health Services who exhibit the same 'symptoms'. Therefore I know that it is a deliberate and evil action.


I probably would. The idea of microwaves exhibiting intentional behaviour and gang-stalking would be the indicator.


Darwin was an excellent scientist, Paley was an excellent logician. So far, I am willing to believe that evolution plays a role in instinctive behaviour. Single gene knockout does not convinve me that is the case. I was not going to come back to this post due to pain issues but it is always good to debate with a person of intellectual honesty.


Aye, you do tend to bring more interesting questions to the fore. Better than the tedious stuff I see around. Although, they do seem to reduce to the same issues.


My question is melatonin. How can this unique interaction come about in evolutionary terms because the yucca plant cannot be fertilised by any other means. Moreover, where is the learning process here? It seems to be one hit or survival is difficult? Is this an argument for Design?


If the organism can't find food. Or the flower can't polinate. It's sort of done for. Hence, natural selection will be acting.

I would say no need for magical design. I don't know much about Yucca moths, but it doesn't appear that different than the symbiotic relationship between figs and their wasps or hummingbirds and their flower.

Here you would have to suggest that the relationship has always been the same. There is absolutely no reason why such a close relationship between two species can't coevolve. Why couldn't it? As one species changes (i.e flower deepens) this induces selection pressure on its pollinator, but the selection pressure acts in reverse as well.

It's the same incredulity that led to the bac flag escapades of Behe et al - 'oh noes, take a part away and it goes pear-shaped, therefore design'. Your argument for design is nothing more than one from ignorance, and an attempt at gap-filling. Can't you see that?

[edit on 14-2-2009 by melatonin]



posted on Feb, 14 2009 @ 10:32 PM
link   

Originally posted by Heronumber0

Originally posted by Astyanax
as far as I am concerned, your argument falls at the first fence: instinct is intrinsically no more complex than any other biological function.

Her's where you stop being funny and decide to avoid the issue entirely; either because you cannot come up with an explanation or you fear the answer, so you turn to sarcasm.

Oh dear. Epic fail, as the young folk say nowadays.

What is instinct? It is a kind of behaviour. What triggers behaviour? A complicated question, no doubt, but luckily we can cut to the chase and say that at some point in the chain of causation there is always an environmental stimulus to which the behaviour is the response. This is true of all behaviour, whether 'instinctive' or not.

Between this environmental stimulus and the instinctive behaviour it triggers lies a chain of biochemical events. They take place inside the brain and body and are not, broadly speaking, under conscious control. It is the origin of these biochemical responses, and the systems that generate them, that we are considering; behaviour is merely an emergent property of them.

So: did they evolve through natural selection, or are they so special they can only have come about by Divine Fiat?

Well, the first thing we can say about these biochemical systems and responses is that are also involved in consciously willed behaviour*. If you think instinct is too complex to have evolved naturally, so then are consciousness and will. Given your beliefs, I'm sure you have no trouble with that idea.

We also see that there is no intrinsic difference between the systems and responses involved in behaviour and such autonomous bodily processes as respiration, digestion, cognition and the maintenance of various homeostases. These, too, are insanely complicated, respond to environmental cues and must, likewise, have evolved or been created. If you think instinct is too complex to have evolved naturally, so too is all the complex functionality of animal bodies. Again, this is a conclusion that should cause no worries to a creationist.

So... do you get it now? There is nothing particularly special about instinct.

Patterns of instinctive behaviour may be complex, but the structures and processes underlying them are no different from other organic structures and processes, respond to selective pressures in just the same way, and are just as hard (or as easy) to explain in terms of evolution.

Your argument presupposes a distinction that does not actually exist in nature. Therefore it falls, as I said, at the first fence. QED, end of story. There is no need to go into detail about


the yucca moth

and other improbable examples from the Wonderful World of Nature. Darwin has been there before you, as always: remember the tale of Angraecum sesquipedale and Xanthopan morgani praedicta?

As for the headaches, I respectfully suggest that when you face up to the facts presented to you every day by your chosen profession, they will disappear. You are not on ATS to convince others but to test yourself against your own doubts.
 

*We'll pretend for a minute that such a chimera really exists, shall we?





new topics

top topics



 
3
<<   2  3  4 >>

log in

join