Social interaction may be linked to mental development

Social interaction may be linked to mental development

Whether people are having a group discussion in a classroom or over dinner, they have an opportunity to hear fresh opinions, see things from a different perspective and ultimately learn something new. Based on the results of a recent study from Trinity College Dublin, social interaction appears to play a role in the development of human intelligence.

For the study, which appears in the journal "Proceedings of the Royal Society B," researchers created computer models of artificial organisms. Each of these beings possessed its own brain so researchers could observe how they developed while playing games like "Prisoner’s Dilemma," which requires players to explore social behavior and decision making.

As the artificial individuals competed with one another while playing these games, researchers found that those who were more cooperative tended to develop larger brains. These models were also found to have more complex memory and decision-making abilities compared to other study subjects.

"Our model differs in that we exploit the use of theoretical experimental evolution combined with artificial neural networks to actually prove that yes, there is an actual cause-and-effect link between needing a large brain to compete against and cooperate with your social group mates," said Trinity’s Andrew Jackson, who worked on the study.

If individuals are curious to see how the social interaction in their lives has shaped their cognitive abilities, they may want to take an IQ test.

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