How does instinct work? How does an organism know how to do something without learning it from something else?


Thank you everyone! Such amazing responses, didn’t expect the post to gain traction like it has. From what I’ve gathered, the answer isn’t simple haha and it is somewhat philosophical by how the question is interpreted. But thank you, I’ve been given a lot to ponder

In: Biology

I’m no expert but I imagine it works like a neural network. Parents pass down a basic neural network from birth that new information constantly updates as we learn more about the world. I imagine the initial setup of the neural network is our instincts at birth and those initial connections are not random but set by something natural selection deemed advantageous.

I probably shouldn’t be saying anything on this subject because I am not educated in the area but Its not really known. They are starting to theorize that DNA might store some type of memories. Like I said its above my head I am just rambling BS that I have heard from others.

Yeah I guess I can kinda wrap my head around natural engraved constant instincts such as breathing coming from DNA but just intrigued as to how something knows what to do later on in life when the situation occurs e.g a turtle or salmon knowing how to navigate back to its birth grounds

Edited: said can’t instead of can

There’s parts of your brain that are genetically wired. It kind of has a hard coded structure and purpose, independent of your life experiences.

Your cerebral cortex is a general purpose brain power section. It can learn to do things and is meant to be reprogrammed.

Evolution shaped certain instincts. Eg the turtles that, for some random genetic mutation reason, returned home to spawn proliferated over those that didn’t. The people with phobias of snakes and spiders. Etc.

If one cave man has the instinct to pet the tiger, he’ll die not making (anymore )babies. If another cave man has the instinct to kill the tiger, he’ll be alive to mate. His offspring will instinctively want to kill the tiger.