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Thread: Instincts: Are they already programmed in the mind before birth?

  1. #1 Instincts: Are they already programmed in the mind before birth? 
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    Are instincts programmed in the mind before birth?
    Are do memories already exist even before any form of input from external sources?
    Where do the instincts and memories come from?

    E.g. Why do (most) infants hate the taste of bitter food? (even without being taught that they should hate bitter food.... or something like that)


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    If thy right nipple offend thee, pluck it off! Goes for the other, too!
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    Are instincts programmed in the mind before birth?
    They're not really "in the mind" in the way that you suggest. Instincts - like fight/flight/freeze are a response to hormone signals. People throwing themselves in front of buses or lifting superhuman weights to save a child in danger are reacting directly to adrenaline - nothing happens "in the mind" for them to make a decision to do such things.

    As for babies' food preferences. Their basic inclination is to prefer the taste of breast milk. Other flavours? Depends what their family eats, or at least serves to children. I remember my family being horrified when they discovered that a grandchild was being given dill pickles to gnaw on while she was teething - they would have given sweet rusks. Remember that most of our taste is driven by smell. If a child is used to the smells of the food they are first served as solid foods, they'll as likely as not accept it.


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    Forum Sophomore Nisslbody's Avatar
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    By definition, instincts are not part of a mental process, but more of a reflexive process. Yes, they are inborn. Humans have few recognized instincts.
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    although i would take issue with the use of the word "programmed"
    all we know is that instincts exist, and don't appear to be part of conscious thought or a previous learning process
    there's still a lot more work to be done to fully understand how instincts really work - but then again, that's the nature of science : if theories could explain everything, there would be nothing left to investigate
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Are instincts programmed in the mind before birth?
    nothing happens "in the mind" for them to make a decision to do such things.
    not even the subconcious mind? instincts exist before childbirth?
    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    If thy right nipple offend thee, pluck it off! Goes for the other, too!
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  7. #6  
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    I think instincts are learned not "born with".
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    I think instincts are learned not "born with".
    Yeah, that's why babies will instantly jerk their hand back if they touch something hot. They learned it in Naught Grade.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RamenNoodles View Post
    Are instincts programmed in the mind before birth?
    Are do memories already exist even before any form of input from external sources?
    Where do the instincts and memories come from?

    E.g. Why do (most) infants hate the taste of bitter food? (even without being taught that they should hate bitter food.... or something like that)
    Instincts are basically just a more complicated reaction to certain stimuli. An analogy is you can flip a switch and turn on a light, or you can flip a switch and a factory builds a car. Your DNA just builds the factory before hand. They do often involve the brain, yes, especially the more complicated ones.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    I think instincts are learned not "born with".
    Learned behavior is not instinct, by definition. Instinct is innate and automatic. I wish I could provide some links, but apparently Portland is having a nasty internet slowdown right now so I'm kind of hosed on that front until they get that resolved.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverfly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    I think instincts are learned not "born with".
    They learned it in Naught Grade.
    what is naught grade?
    google didn't come out with any results, neither does wikipedia
    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by RamenNoodles View Post
    what is naught grade?
    google didn't come out with any results, neither does wikipedia
    Oh, it's a little linguistic trouble... I'm U.S.A. but the naught - Zero- as the British say.
    Grade Zero.
    It was more of my bad humor.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nisslbody View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    I think instincts are learned not "born with".
    Learned behavior is not instinct, by definition. Instinct is innate and automatic. I wish I could provide some links, but apparently Portland is having a nasty internet slowdown right now so I'm kind of hosed on that front until they get that resolved.
    If you burned your hand, would you not instinctively pull your hand away from a hot object, when you felt heat, because you had learned that that can hurt you?
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    so if you dont teach a baby that the heat from the object will hurt him, the baby wont pull his hand away from the hot object?
    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    If thy right nipple offend thee, pluck it off! Goes for the other, too!
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    If you burned your hand, would you not instinctively pull your hand away from a hot object, when you felt heat, because you had learned that that can hurt you?
    Quote Originally Posted by RamenNoodles View Post
    so if you dont teach a baby that the heat from the object will hurt him, the baby wont pull his hand away from the hot object?
    It is a reflex action, otherwise known as Withdrawal Reflex. The learning or teaching part comes from identifying what objects causes pain or harm, but not the recoiling action itself. Much like our gag reflex by sticking a finger down your throat (so to speak). In a sense, reflex is involuntary, but it can be overridden if the sensations provoked by the stimulus are gradual.

    In the embedded video below, there is a long slender needle/poker (on the lower left) that triggers it.

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    No discussion of instinctual behaviours would be complete without reference to "Fixed Action Patterns", often referred to as the simplest type of instinct.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    No this is incorrect, it doesn't need to be taught...
    So if it is not learned, then the baby will not remember the feeling of hot and do it again? Or will he/she then instinctively know not to tough something hot?
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    If you burned your hand, would you not instinctively pull your hand away from a hot object, when you felt heat, because you had learned that that can hurt you?
    Quote Originally Posted by RamenNoodles View Post
    so if you dont teach a baby that the heat from the object will hurt him, the baby wont pull his hand away from the hot object?
    It is a reflex action, otherwise known as Withdrawal Reflex. The learning or teaching part comes from identifying what objects causes pain or harm, but not the recoiling action itself. Much like our gag reflex by sticking a finger down your throat (so to speak). In a sense, reflex is involuntary, but it can be overridden if the sensations provoked by the stimulus are gradual.

    In the embedded video below, there is a long slender needle/poker (on the lower left) that triggers it.

    Mahalo.
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by RamenNoodles View Post
    Are instincts programmed in the mind before birth?
    Basically yes. They are not learned behaviors; they are built in.

    Are do memories already exist even before any form of input from external sources?
    No. Memories, by definition, do not come "pre-installed." (Interesting note - many autistic people remember their own births due to the different way that autistics form memories.)

    Where do the instincts and memories come from?
    Instincts come from basic wiring in your brain; memories are formed as your neurons "learn" patterns that are caused by things you experience (and later things you think.)

    E.g. Why do (most) infants hate the taste of bitter food?
    They have some basic programming to reject some things that will make them sick, like sour milk. Other than that there's no hard and fast rule. Our son loved lemons when he was six months old.
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  20. #19  
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    I'm losing the line between 'instinct' and 'reflex'. A baby pulling away from a flame is a reflex, yes? An instinct would be running when you feel threatened.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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  21. #20  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    I'm losing the line between 'instinct' and 'reflex'. A baby pulling away from a flame is a reflex, yes? An instinct would be running when you feel threatened.
    Yes. Instincts are hardwired complex reactions to stimuli, generally carried out in the brain. Reflexes are simple reactions to stimuli, often NOT carried out in the brain.
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  22. #21  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    I'm losing the line between 'instinct' and 'reflex'. A baby pulling away from a flame is a reflex, yes? An instinct would be running when you feel threatened.
    Instincts are behaviour orientated; often a drive that spurs a series of behaviors to achieve a certain objective (such as the ritual mating behaviour of avian species, or sea turtles returning to land to lay eggs and hatchlings returning to the sea).

    Reflexes however are more "mechanical" in the sense that it is the derived from the physiology of the species.



    Edits: If I'm not mistaken, our gag reflex isn't present in some animals such as whales due to the differences in our physiology.
    Last edited by scoobydoo1; September 25th, 2013 at 03:41 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    No this is incorrect, it doesn't need to be taught...
    So if it is not learned, then the baby will not remember the feeling of hot and do it again? Or will he/she then instinctively know not to tough something hot?
    Oh a baby will touch a hot object again because babies are stupid. Reflexes help them instinctively withdraw their hand away again the next time so they don't hurt themselves out of sheer stupidity.

    Babies born without innate instincts didn't survive long enough to learn anything, which is how and why instincts have evolved over the last billion years or so since life has been evolving.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    No this is incorrect, it doesn't need to be taught...
    So if it is not learned, then the baby will not remember the feeling of hot and do it again? Or will he/she then instinctively know not to tough something hot?
    Oh a baby will touch a hot object again because babies are stupid. Reflexes help them instinctively withdraw their hand away again the next time so they don't hurt themselves out of sheer stupidity.

    Babies aren't stupid!! *laughing* Other than that I agree
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    I've seen babies eat sand.

    Babies are stupid.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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  26. #25  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    I've seen babies eat sand.

    Babies are stupid.
    No, it is their instinctive desire for diatomaceous earth!
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    I've seen babies eat sand.

    Babies are stupid.
    THat is LEARNING!! SHEESH!! WHACK!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by strange View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by flick montana View Post
    i've seen babies eat sand.

    Babies are stupid.
    no, it is their instinctive desire for diatomaceous earth!
    howling!
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  29. #28  
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    do wild human babies walk on 2s or 4s if not taught?(when they grow up)
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  30. #29  
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    Quote Originally Posted by RamenNoodles View Post
    do wild human babies walk on 2s or 4s if not taught?(when they grow up)
    I don't know. I didn't have wild babies.
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    do wild human babies walk on 2s or 4s if not taught?
    I don't know what "wild" means in this sentence.

    But I know what "human" means. Humans live as social animals. Our babies don't mature unless we teach them what they need to grow and survive. Teaching is what humanity is about.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    do wild human babies walk on 2s or 4s if not taught?
    I don't know what "wild" means in this sentence.

    But I know what "human" means. Humans live as social animals. Our babies don't mature unless we teach them what they need to grow and survive. Teaching is what humanity is about.
    I believe that applies to all species. Other species move one..we don't...ours are ours for life.
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    I believe that applies to all species.
    No, it doesn't. If you watch a mother and baby chimp at a termite mound, the mother does nothing to help the littlie choose the right kind of stick or straw or help when they have trouble getting the termites into the mouth when they catch some. They rely entirely on imitation. If the youngster can't get the idea on their own, then they don't get the skill.

    Humans guide and teach those kinds of skills. Many humans even punish little ones for not doing it right to "help" them learn.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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  34. #33  
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    Quote Originally Posted by RamenNoodles View Post
    do wild human babies walk on 2s or 4s if not taught?(when they grow up)
    There have been a few cases of children growing up without other adult humans. They are rare, poorly documented and in some cases of dubious veracity. I have only come across them with respect to language acquisition (*). As far as I am aware, they were fully able to walk bipedally (but had terrible table manners).

    (*) In general, their ability to acquire language was significantly impaired although, in some cases, this could have been due to other cognitive defects perhaps caused by malnutrition, disease or injury.
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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  35. #34  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    (*) In general, their ability to acquire language was significantly impaired although, in some cases, this could have been due to other cognitive defects perhaps caused by malnutrition, disease or injury.
    Susan Curtiss?
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  36. #35  
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    I was not familiar with that case. It sounds interesting but is pretty distressing. I had to stop reading ...
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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  37. #36  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    Oh a baby will touch a hot object again because babies are stupid.
    Hmm, not my experience. It seems to take only a few repetitions (in some cases only one instance) of an injury before babies learn to avoid that behavior.
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  38. #37  
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    I believe that applies to all species.
    No, it doesn't. If you watch a mother and baby chimp at a termite mound, the mother does nothing to help the littlie choose the right kind of stick or straw or help when they have trouble getting the termites into the mouth when they catch some. They rely entirely on imitation. If the youngster can't get the idea on their own, then they don't get the skill.

    Humans guide and teach those kinds of skills. Many humans even punish little ones for not doing it right to "help" them learn.
    THanks for the information!
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