How does instinct work in the brain?



Talking about inherited behaviours as opposed to learned. For example, a baby that knows to try and nurse from its mother and will search for the breast almost immediately after birth. Obviously many more examples but that’s what got me thinking.

In: Biology

Not so much works but rather encoded. To be fair, it’s considered separate from reflexes. The baby automatically turning its head towards the nipple is a reflex, not instinct. All that reflexes need are event input, and no thinking.

In my opinion *instinct* is lumped together with experience, behaviour, and reaction. It can be learnt, and controlled. A decision can be made whether to react to detected danger (instincts), or not.

Reflexes cannot be controlled. They happen whether or not the person is thinking or deciding, or knowing, or wants to. What babies are doing with the teat thing, that’s reflex, really. Babies cannot make decisions, they haven’t learned how to do it yet. What they do, happen without needing any decision-making. Like us jumping out of the way of something and then wondering “how the fuck did I get from there…to here…so fast??”.

That’s reflexes, baby! Before you can think and decide, the body has already done the job for you. Imagine that. Before you can even decide. Before even having time to think and “woahh duude” about it.

But it’s not instinct, no. Instinct is ability, experience, behaviour. You can learn and develop it, but you can’t *not* control it.

Now, we’ve got the definitions established, I’m sorry I can’t truly explain *instinct*.

I’ll leave it to the more competent redditors & professional animal behaviourists to help you.