Intelligence emerged as a result of a genetic accident – this is the most common conclusion among researchers who study human evolution.
Their studies would also have to answer why the brain remains, in spite of all the important tasks it performs, a sleeping giant since neurological research shows that we only use 5-7% of its potential.
Human intelligence is the result of a huge number of interconnected neural functions, producing manual dexterity, a highly sophisticated and clear stereoscopic vision, recognition and use of complex symbols (abstract thinking) and a very long memory.
Nowadays, the predominant scientific view is that there are many degrees of complexity intelligence (some of which are present in all mammals) and that humans share with apes and dolphins a lot of characteristics that, until recently, were considered unique to human beings.
The difference between human and animal intelligence is given by the articulate language, responsible for the appearance of thinking, reasoning, imagination and long-term planning – all these processes appeared with the semantics and syntax of words and can be defined as “internal language processing”.
In this context, the most important product of the human brain is consciousness. At the moment we do not know if self-awareness and consciousness exist in other animals, or if it first appeared in humans.
The Origins of Consciousness
All we know is that it can be considered a product of evolution, originally developed as a necessity for adaptation and survival, as consciousness allows individuals to create a reality beyond the physical world of the five senses. Moreover, the abstract reality brought humans invaluable advantage to project the consequences of their actions before they are performed.
The emergence of intelligence and consciousness represented a quantum leap in the evolution which allowed our pre-human ancestors adapt to dramatic climate changes. This jump has created conditions for the emergence of a permanent connection between cultural evolution (grounded in the language) and the subsequent development of the brain (marked by high flexibility, adaptability and ability to learn).
Thus, during a period of two million years, the human brain and nervous system came to perfection about 100,000 years ago.
Evolution and the Brain Capacity
What to do with the fact that all neurological research indicates that we use our brain capacity at the rate of up to 7% and that its evolution ended more than 100 millennia ago? Miraculous number 7. One of the hypotheses is that in the brain, there is a “table” of neurons – a material background and evolutionary product of intelligence.
This “table”, now composed of approx. 93% of the total number of neurons that make up the human brain, defined, long time ago, intelligent hominids. In other words, only a limited number of neurons (about 7% of the total number of the actual human brain) is responsible for human intelligence today.
When the critical mass of neurons destined to intelligence was reached, the only evolution that remained possible for new species was the qualitative one. So what do we do with the remaining gray matter? While most neurologists agreed that brain evolution, in terms of intellectual capacity, is completed, there is no consensus on the use of sleeping neurons to develop other capacities.
One approach outside the scientific environment is that of paranormal researchers, who believe that in the future, billions of sleeping neurons could be used in developing psychic abilities (telepathy, telekinesis etc.). They also believe that religious prophets used their brains to a much higher proportion compared to normal people, thus explaining the miraculous nature of the facts and predictions made by Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.