Baldwin's classic hypothesis states that behavioral plasticity can speed evolution by (a) smoothing the fitness landscape and (b) indirect genetic assimilation of acquired characteristics. This latter phase demands a strong correlation between genotype and phenotype space. But the natural world shows signs of this correlation at only a very coarse level, since the intervening developmental process greatly complicates the mapping from genetics to physiology and ethology. Hence, development appears to preclude a strong Baldwin effect. However, by adding a simple developmental mechanism to Hinton and Nowlan's classic model of the Baldwin effect, and by allowing evolution to determine the proper balance between direct and indirect mapping of genome to phenotype, this research reveals several different effects of development on the Baldwin effect, some promoting and others inhibiting. Perhaps the most interesting result is an evolved cooperation between direct blueprints and indirect developmental recipes in searching for unstructured and partially structured target patterns in large, needle-in-the-haystack fitness landscapes.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.