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Trusk'our

Kandra Expanding Their Intelligence?

Question

Since Kandra can physically shape their bodies, could they potentially shape or grow extra brain matter to increase their fluid intelligence?

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I'll make a few notes, not being an expert on the brain, but I assume that different nervous systems are in some way optimized for survival.

For example, many invertebrates and insects have extremely low reaction times. I could be wrong, but my assumption is that this could be due to either scale of the nervous system, as the nerve impulses have a much shorter distance to travel, and in some cases because the response behavior is the only option available to them so it only is stimulus -> response, rather than stimulus -> decision making -> response. There will be amazing things in nature that simply won't scale up, like if you were to graft gigantic flea legs onto an elephant, it would not be able to jump 50 times its own height. Incredibly fast reflexes can be trained, but they come at a cost of optimizing the subconscious decision making process to react to specific stimuli in specific ways. These are not things you can just grow, extensive practice performing the technique is required to develop the desired reflex for the given situation.

So... I think they can probably optimize to a certain extent, but I don't think you can actually get a bullet time effect like F-Zinc or F-Steel just from adjusting neurons, I think you'd need magic in order to get accelerated decision making faster than what the processing that a human brain does. With practice a Kandra may be able to optimize their nervous system to give them a slight edge in combat, but I think it's possible that they would get more mileage by being able to alter the percentage of their muscle fibers between fast twitch and slow twitch fibers, if that's possible. If they can always have the optimum muscle configuration for their task (assuming it doesn't take more energy to change their body mass composition), slow twitch for endurance tasks, fast twitch for quick motions including combat, that is an advantage that top athletes can't even train for, as humans are born with their muscle composition. This in addition to training would let them perform what we would consider superhuman feats of speed and physical prowess.

I won't say it's impossible for a Kandra to optimize their nervous system to gain faster processing speed, but if anyone has looked at computer data processing and how complicated that can be, I'd expect figuring out how to optimize a brain to allow for accelerated processing to be just as complicated if not more so, particularly if they don't actually need a human brain to think. Imagine performing brain surgery on yourself and trying to identify if you're getting smarter or dumber. It's probably possible, but not something just any Kandra would be willing to risk, or at least I probably wouldn't risk it.

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I'm going to guess that they could not. Were they able to do so, they would almost certainly all be doing it. And so, since they don't, it follows that they can't.

It's definitely possible that there is a way to do it and that the kandra just don't know how. They know a lot about bodies, and have certainly consumed and impersonated people with all different brain structures and levels of intelligence but this doesn't seem to affect the forms they use or prefer. The kandra themselves don't have obvious brain matter in the way that humans do, so maybe they just haven't explored that avenue. Adding more functional brain tissue does seem like it would be vastly more complicated than just packing in some extra muscle fibers here and there.

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I think they can do it but it won't increase their intelligence, TenSoon became a dog and his intelligence hasn't decreased.

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3 hours ago, Adamkarma said:

 

I think they can do it but it won't increase their intelligence, TenSoon became a dog and his intelligence hasn't decreased.

I don't find that convincing.  he had to look like a dog, but the insides did not need to be 100% accurate - even 90+% leaves plenty of room for expanded brain capacity compared to a wolfhound.

that said, a brain is enormously complicated, so even if they can duplicate it, that doesn't necessarily mean that it would function the way you'd expect - 2 brains would likely just mean literally fighting yourself for control of your body. and bigger is not automatically better either. To make it work, if it can work, you would need to have probably a better understanding of the brain than we currently have, and make very specific types of changes and improvements. and that assumes there would be no sort of spiritual or cognitive realm shenanigans blocking it, which is definitely plausible.

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1 hour ago, Dunkum said:

that said, a brain is enormously complicated, so even if they can duplicate it, that doesn't necessarily mean that it would function the way you'd expect - 2 brains would likely just mean literally fighting yourself for control of your body. and bigger is not automatically better either. To make it work, if it can work, you would need to have probably a better understanding of the brain than we currently have, and make very specific types of changes and improvements. and that assumes there would be no sort of spiritual or cognitive realm shenanigans blocking it, which is definitely plausible.

Certain animals can do some very impressive things with their brains, even if their overall intelligence is much less developed than humans'.

I wonder if Kandra started digesting more animals if they could learn to replicate some of their more impressive cognitive functions, like how dolphins can have part of their brain sleep while allowing the other to stay alert, or how flies and many insects have a much faster reaction time than humans.

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Posted (edited)

52 minutes ago, Trusk'our said:

I wonder if Kandra started digesting more animals if they could learn to replicate some of their more impressive cognitive functions, like how dolphins can have part of their brain sleep while allowing the other to stay alert, or how flies and many insects have a much faster reaction time than humans.

At a guess (again, since this is all guesswork) I'd think they could not replicate these sorts of things well, if at all, just from eating and imitating. Physical structure is obviously important to how physical things happen, but there are lots of "in the moment" things which govern brain activity and responses as well which you wouldn't be able to perceive from eating a dead organism. Some might be worth developing, if they could figure out how through trial and error, even if kandra had to change their physical configurations significantly to allow them (like developing brains to which they then offload their cognitive functions in the first place).

The idea of a "brain" is also kind of fluid. A large, swollen bundle of nerve tissue at the top of a spinal cord which is the major processing area for an organism isn't the only option. Kandra have to be able to work with nerve cells (since we know they can selectively turn off the ability to feel pain), so they might be able to produce ganglia  in key spots to process immediate information really quickly, with physical modifications to match. That'd be an interesting development in later Mistborn books-- kandra that can act with almost Feruchemical speed with faster-than-human-thought reactions to things.

Edited by Returned
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A larger brain doesnt nessisarly mean they would be more intelligent. I suppose it depends on how you define intellegent. They might be able to process information better but they wouldnt have more knowledge

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I would assume not because in the cosmere it appears as though the cognitive realm is where you actually think and the brain is there to make your body work and have the cognitive realm work through it so your cognitive aspect would not grow and as shown with the mistwraith when they get extra body parts or brains it doesn't make the smarter whatsoever. 

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On 6/28/2022 at 2:18 PM, HOID WANTS INSTANT NOODLES said:

A larger brain doesnt nessisarly mean they would be more intelligent. I suppose it depends on how you define intellegent. They might be able to process information better but they wouldnt have more knowledge

Yeah, that was the line of reasoning I was thinking along. Also, I was thinking of certain mental "tricks", such as the aforementioned dolphins half-brain sleep. 

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On 28/06/2022 at 8:51 PM, jasnah kholin said:

I would assume not because in the cosmere it appears as though the cognitive realm is where you actually think and the brain is there to make your body work and have the cognitive realm work through it so your cognitive aspect would not grow and as shown with the mistwraith when they get extra body parts or brains it doesn't make the smarter whatsoever. 

Continuing upon this, what if brains aren't the source of mental capabilty at all, but rather your Spirit Web stores Connections between pieces of information gathered from life experience, and the brain is simply a medium for this. This could only be falsiflied with great difficulty, and not by replicating and kind of physical matter.

We also have no proof that brain size is relavant to intelligence in the cosmere at all, even if brains do store your intelligence?

 

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I think they could do it, they just don't have the requisite knowledge of biology yet

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We know kandra move around their brain matter (which isn't necessarily centralized in a single brain) - MeLaan talks about it- but as far as I know we don't hear about them creating/reabsorbing it. We're also told that they have to keep a certain minimum mass to keep their intelligence.

So it's possible that they need to keep their brain matter relatively intact to keep their memories etc., moving it around but not reabsorbing and re-creating. So they might not have practice with changing it, or not be willing to risk experimenting (as @Duxreduxmentioned).

Since their brain matter can be distributed, it's clearly somewhat different from human brains - I don't think we know enough to know if creating more would make them smarter. Perhaps the oldest kandra have to add extra memory storage or something, though?

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Realmically speaking I think the answer is No.  They have a realmic Blockage that prevents most cognitive functions and it is the Spike the releases it, acting as conduit, and in the Cosmere increased Intelligence (and sapience) come from increased Investiture.   So while I think they could move their brain matter around all they want (and with enough medical knowledge might be able to make brain-surgery level changes, I dont think they could create an overall "better" brain without additional Investiture to support it, and would need the appropriate Blessing (and/or metalminds) to make that increase.

The closest thing I'd see as possible is re-wiring the brain to do one thing better at the expense of another.  So like they could make the visual center of the brain bigger for more Visual processing power, but at the expense of another sector of the brain that was processing Auditory information, or something like that.

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