[GRG] Mouse Intelligence? (was: Major Mouse Testing Program — slides to be sent for the New Year!)

Hi Mike! I’ve enjoyed reading some of your explanations about cryonics, e.g. at:



Perhaps some others here would be interested too.

Replies about mouse intelligence below:

On Jan 9, 2015, at 11:31 AM, Mike Darwin wrote:

> How any educated person familiar with biological evolution (and living in the West in the 21st Century) could believe that any vertebrate, let alone any mammal, is an automaton behaving in some computer- like algorithmic fashion is unfathomable to me.

I hope you’ll be interested in understanding some different ideas, which you report you were previously unaware of.

They are relevant to GRG because understanding mice can help with mouse experiments.

> Isolating animals, placing them in barren environments and depriving them of the degree of social interaction required for their species has a devastating impact on health and longevity. Such animals experience large and life long elevation of serum cortisol levels (an immunosuppressive and pro-brain aging condition), altered cellular and humoral immunity and major adverse changes in brain chemistry. The literature is so vast on this subject that it would run to many pages to just to reproduce the cites. What I haver done below is to pick a very few representative papers.

I’m not disputing these facts, but I don’t think they have the implications you claim.

There are other reasons animals could react like this, besides them being intelligent, non-algorithmic, human-like and having emotions.

Suppose mice do work by non-intelligent algorithm. Why would you expect to put them in different situations and get the same results? Algorithms often produce different results with different inputs. It isn’t surprising that a mouse algorithm would work badly in some environments it isn’t evolutionary adapted for.

> Animals would not explore, play, and otherwise engage with their environment and with each other unless they were biologically rewarded for doing so.

That doesn’t make sense to me. Why can’t an algorithm specify doing those actions, so then the animal does them?

I do think mouse algorithms are complex and involve something you could call a reward system. Algorithms can do things like specify releasing (reward) chemicals in some situations, and algorithms can react differently to the presence (reward) chemicals.

> In order to function in a complex and changing world animals must be able to process complex experiential information, store the results and integrate them will feelings, such as pleasure, fear and anxiety.

It sounds like the issue is that – in my view – you have dramatically underestimated the possible complexity and capability of non-intelligent algorithms. Why can’t algorithms process complex information, store the results, and later take that stored information into account? They can.

So because you view algorithms as limited, you think they can’t explain mice. Perhaps you can comment on why you think algorithm complexity is inherently limited well below mice, if that’s our disagreement.

A typical reason for this belief I’ve encountered is basically that human programmers aren’t really very good yet. People sometimes estimate the capability of algorithms a little above what human programmers currently accomplish. For example, people see chess playing algorithms and correctly identify those as far more limited and simplistic than mice (though note chess algorithms do process and store information, and later use it – that isn’t hard). But that doesn’t put a cap on what a better written and more complex algorithms could accomplish.

> By the implantation of complex multi-electrode arrays in the brain it is now possible to actually visualize the cognitive and emotional dynamics of the rodent brain: http://ift.tt/1IxCPlW and, just as one might expect, it functions very much like the human brain. The parts of the human brain that give us consciousness and the ability to experience pleasure, pain, fear, anxiety and to experience anticipation are evolutionarily ancient and that is why they are referred to as the “reptilian brain”.

This technology is pretty cool. But your way of using it strikes me like this:

You attach complex measuring equipment to two different computers. You notice some broad similarities in the movement of electrons between different subsystems. And then, based on this hardware monitoring, you reach the conclusion that the computers are running similar software, and even claim some specific features are the same.


All of the evidence brought up so far is compatible with mice functioning by non-intelligent algorithm. I’m not disputing this evidence; it doesn’t contradict my position.

If I’m correct, then many people – including scientific researchers – have been telling fantasy stories about the human-like characteristics of mice, and misinterpreting some actions as involving emotions, intelligence, etc. Somewhat similar to what many people do with their pets. Misunderstanding what one is observing hinders research progress.

PS If you think mice have emotions and intelligence, maybe you shouldn’t put them in cages and do experiments on them – or eat meat.

Elliot Temple


About Johnny Adams

My full-time commitment is to slow and ultimately reverse age related functional decline to increase healthy years of life. I’ve been active in this area since the 1970s, steadily building skills and accomplishments. I have a good basic understanding of the science of aging, and have many skills that complement those of scientists so they can focus on science to advance our shared mission. Broad experience Top skills: administration, management, information technology (data and programming), communications, writing, marketing, market research and analysis, public speaking, forging ethical win-win outcomes among stakeholders (i.e. high level "selling"). Knowledge in grant writing, fundraising, finance. Like most skilled professionals, I’m best described as a guy who defines an end point, then figures out how to get there. I enjoy the conception, design, execution and successful completion of a grand plan. Executive Director Gerontology Research Group (GRG). Manages Email discussion forum, web site, meetings and oversees supercentenarian (oldest humans, 110+ years) research. CEO / Executive Director Carl I. Bourhenne Medical Research Foundation (Aging Intervention Foundation), an IRS approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit. http://www.AgingIntervention.org Early contributor to Supercentenarian Research Foundation. Co-Founder Geroscience Healthspan Forum. Active contributor to numerous initiatives to increase healthy years of life. Co-authored book on conventional, practical methods available today to slow the processes of aging – nutrition, exercise, behavior modification and motivation, stress reduction, proper supplementation, damage caused by improper programs, risk reduction and others. Fundamental understanding of, and experience in the genomics of longevity (internship analyzing and curating longevity gene papers). Biological and technical includes information technology, software development and computer programming, bioinformatics and protein informatics, online education, training programs, regulatory, clinical trials software, medical devices (CAT scanners and related), hospital electrical equipment testing program. Interpersonal skills – good communication, honest, well liked, works well in teams or alone. Real world experience collaborating in interdisciplinary teams in fast paced organizations. Uses technology to advance our shared mission. Education: MBA 1985 University of Southern California -- Deans List, Albert Quon Community Service Award (for volunteering with the American Longevity Association and helping an elderly lady every other week), George S. May Scholarship, CA State Fellowship. BA psychology, psychobiology emphasis 1983 California State University Fullerton Physiological courses as well as core courses (developmental, abnormal etc). UCLA Psychobiology 1978, one brief but fast moving and fulfilling quarter. Main interest was the electrochemical basis of consciousness. Also seminars at the NeuroPsychiatric Institute. Other: Ongoing conferences, meetings and continuing education. Aging, computer software and information technology. Some molecular biology, biotech, bio and protein informatics, computer aided drug design, clinical medical devices, electronics, HIPAA, fundraising through the Assoc. of Fundraising Professionals. Previous careers include: Marketing Increasing skill set and successes in virtually all phases, with valuable experience in locating people and companies with the greatest need and interest in a product or service, and sitting across the table with decision makers and working out agreements favorable to all. Information Technology: Management, data analysis and programming in commercial and clinical trials systems, and bioinformatics and protein informatics. As IT Director at Newport Beach, CA based technology organization Success Family of Continuing Education Companies, provided online software solutions for insurance and financial professionals in small to Fortune 500 size companies. We were successful with lean team organization (the slower moving competition was unable to create similar software systems). Medical devices: At Omnimedical in Paramount CA developed and managed quality assurance dept. and training depts. for engineers, physicians and technicians. Designed hospital equipment testing program for hospital services division. In my early 20’s I was a musician, and studied psychology and music. Interned with the intention of becoming a music therapist. These experiences helped develop valuable skills used today to advance our shared mission of creating aging solutions.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s