The evolution of domain-general mechanisms in intelligence and learning.

Department of Psychology, California State University, Long Beach 90840-0901, USA.
The Journal of General Psychology (Impact Factor: 1.04). 02/2005; 132(1):5-40. DOI: 10.3200/GENP.132.1.5-40
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT For both humans and animals, domain-general mechanisms are fallible but powerful tools for attaining evolutionary goals (e.g., resources) in uncertain, novel environments that were not recurrent features of the environment of evolutionary adaptedness. Domain-general mechanisms interact in complex ways with domain-specific, information-encapsulated modules, most importantly by manipulating information obtained from various modules in attempting to solve novel problems. Mechanisms of general intelligence, particularly the executive functions of working memory, underlie analogical reasoning as well as the decontextualization processes that are central to human thought. Although there is a variety of evolved, special purpose learning devices, learning is also characterized by domain-general mechanisms that are able to achieve evolutionary goals by making novel and serendipitous associations with environmental cues.


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