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I have a general understanding of why intelligence, i.e. nervous systems in animals, is advantageous: processing information allows an animal to adapt to its environment dynamically and perform complex sequences of actions that an animal without a nervous system could not. Larger nervous systems potentially allow for more possibilities herein.

However, I am interested in a deeper understanding of the factors that cause a species to at first develop, and increase the size of, a nervous system, and different forms of cognition:

  • what type of environment favors the development of a nervous system in a species?

  • what type of environment favors life-long learning and adaptivity (neiroplasticity?) of a species (as opposed to a fixed neural structure after development in an organism)?

  • what type of environment favors the development of goal-oriented planning (as opposed to simple impulse-response patterns)

  • what type of environment favors development of "cognitive ability" in species?

Do you know of a good book that addresses questions like this?

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