Animal minds Intelligent Design Neuroscience

If spiders are as intelligent as many vertebrates …

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… and it appears that they are, what is the role of the brain in mediating intelligence? Spiders have rather different brains from vertebrates; much simpler, for one thing:

Ronald R. Hoy, Cornell University professor of neurobiology and behavior, considers the spider “one of the smartest of all invertebrates.” But while its behavior is comparable to that of many vertebrates, its anatomy is not:

“Dr. Hoy and his colleagues wanted to study jumping spiders because they are very different from most of their kind. They do not wait in a sticky web for lunch to fall into a trap.

They search out prey, stalk it and pounce. “They’ve essentially become cats,” Dr. Hoy said.

And they do all this with a brain the size of a poppy seed and a visual system that is completely different from that of a mammal: two big eyes dedicated to high-resolution vision and six smaller eyes that pick up motion. – James Gorman, “Unexpected Complexity in a Spider’s Tiny Brain” at New York Times (November 3, 2014) … “

Another new study provides evidence that jumping spiders can plan their attacks. Denyse O’Leary, “In what ways are spiders intelligent?” at Mind Matters News

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2 Replies to “If spiders are as intelligent as many vertebrates …

  1. 1
    Querius says:

    I think the jumping spider relies on “fixed action patterns.” In other words, its tiny brain is pre-programmed.


  2. 2
    polistra says:

    Hoy seems to be partly conflating sensory and motor refinement with intelligence. This also applies to cats. Cats aren’t very good at predicting and generalizing, compared to other big mammals, but they’re so FAST and acrobatic that they don’t need to predict.

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