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Advances in Artificial Intelligence
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 841646, 13 pages
Research Article

Selection for Reinforcement-Free Learning Ability as an Organizing Factor in the Evolution of Cognition

Graduate School of Information Science, Nagoya University, Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan

Received 28 August 2012; Revised 21 January 2013; Accepted 5 February 2013

Academic Editor: Bikramjit Banerjee

Copyright © 2013 Solvi Arnold et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This research explores the relation between environmental structure and neurocognitive structure. We hypothesize that selection pressure on abilities for efficient learning (especially in settings with limited or no reward information) translates into selection pressure on correspondence relations between neurocognitive and environmental structure, since such correspondence allows for simple changes in the environment to be handled with simple learning updates in neurocognitive structure. We present a model in which a simple form of reinforcement-free learning is evolved in neural networks using neuromodulation and analyze the effect this selection for learning ability has on the virtual species' neural organization. We find a higher degree of organization than in a control population evolved without learning ability and discuss the relation between the observed neural structure and the environmental structure. We discuss our findings in the context of the environmental complexity thesis, the Baldwin effect, and other interactions between adaptation processes.