[eli5]Where is preprogrammed behavior stored exactly?


Like mating behavior in birds, or basically any behavior patterns in insects? I understand it’s in brain, but how does it keep structure?

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Hi. Doctor here.

Pre-programmed behavior is kept in the form of connected neurons in the brain. Genetic blueprints determine the arrangement of these connections, and the arrangement determines the behavior.

Think of it like a jigsaw puzzle. Puzzle pieces arranged according to a blueprint give rise to the final image. Or like a circuit, where the combination of wires and connections determines what that circuit does.

Same principle here.

Fun fact: The more pre-programmed your brain is, the less able it is to learn new information.

Animals need pre-programmed behaviors to survive, which is why for example Girraffes are able to start running as soon as they’re born. Humans take up to 2 years to learn to run because at birth we have only basic pre-programmed behaviors. But this “unfinished-ness” is compensated by the massive range of information our brains can absorb.

Animal brains are like a finished painting. Human brains are like a blank canvas. You can’t turn a Da Vinci to a Van Gogh, but you can turn a blank canvas into a Van Gogh.

Hope this helps 😊