Revista de Etologia
versão ISSN 1517-2805
JAPYASSU, Hilton Ferreira. Fenótipos amplificáveis em pequenas cognições. Rev. etol. [online]. 2010, vol.9, n.1, pp. 63-71. ISSN 1517-2805.
Amplifiable phenotypes within small cognitive systems. The hypothesis that animal cognition is not a single general problem solving mechanism but consists of multiple specific mechanisms referred to by evolutionary psychologists as cognitive modules is prevailing in the literature. Implicit in model of evolutionary psychology are the ideas that (1) to each evolutionary increment in the problem solving ability of animals, there is a correlated increment in the neural network that underlies performance and that (2) more plasticity is correlated to more information within the cognitive system. In this paper we show that the idea of an increase in cognition through an increase in neural modules is not sustainable in the case of small brained animals that show high behavioral plasticity, such as spiders. Spiders that evolved high web building plasticity also evolved a reduced number of modules controlling their performance. We also show that the second idea is not supported by results obtained with small brained animals. The evolution of prey capture in web building spiders is best explained by a model that conceives information as emerging in the interaction of the animal and its environment, and not as something within animal brains. The increase in neural modules does not seem to be the only evolutionary route to the enhancement of behavioral plasticity. We discuss the implications of this new model to the relationship between psychology and biology, and we suggest that the interactionist ideas of developmental psychology should help biologists in the construction of a new theory of evolution.
Palavras-chave : Evolutionary psychology; Cognition; Phenotypes; Spiders.