11 episodes

An interdisciplinary conference focusing on new ideas and discoveries in research on the evolution of human cognition The conference focuses on genetic, developmental, and socio-cultural processes that have played a particularly significant role in the evolution of human cognition, and on uniquely human cognitive achievements in domains such as causal understanding, language, social learning, theory of mind and meta-cognition.

The event was supported by All Souls College, The British Academy, Guarantors of Brain, and Magdalen College's Calleva Centre, and took place on 23rd and 24th June 2011.

New Thinking: Advances in the Study of Human Cognitive Evolution Oxford University

    • Education
    • 3.8 • 24 Ratings

An interdisciplinary conference focusing on new ideas and discoveries in research on the evolution of human cognition The conference focuses on genetic, developmental, and socio-cultural processes that have played a particularly significant role in the evolution of human cognition, and on uniquely human cognitive achievements in domains such as causal understanding, language, social learning, theory of mind and meta-cognition.

The event was supported by All Souls College, The British Academy, Guarantors of Brain, and Magdalen College's Calleva Centre, and took place on 23rd and 24th June 2011.

    • video
    The Social Brain on the Internet

    The Social Brain on the Internet

    In primates and humans alike, the number of social relationships an individual can have is constrained in part by its social cognitive competences and in part by the time available to invest in face-to-face interaction. I will show that time, in particular, has a significant effect on the quality and stability of social relationships. If the quality of a relationship is a function of the time invested in it, then we might expect a technology that allows an individual to cut through the time constraints inherent in face-to-face interaction will allow larger social networks to be maintained. Social networking media on the Internet provide one obvious possibility in this respect. I will review evidence suggesting that the Internet does not (and cannot) help us to widen our social horizons, and will show why. Presented by Robin Dunbar (Anthropology, University of Oxford, UK). Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

    • 43 min
    • video
    Why the Hominin Cognitive Niche Was and Is a Crucially Socio-cognitive Niche

    Why the Hominin Cognitive Niche Was and Is a Crucially Socio-cognitive Niche

    Tooby and deVore argued that hominin evolution hinged on the exploitation of a unique 'cognitive niche'. We propose that a diversity of evidence indicates this was fundamentally a socio-cognitive niche. Analysis of hunter-gatherer ethnologies confirms unprecedented levels of egalitarian behaviour, cooperation and culture, in comparison to other primates and inferred ancestral stages. In conjunction with recent archaeological findings on the evolution of hunting, we use these data to reconstruct socio-cognitive changes in the course of hominin evolution, including joint planning and the impact of language. Precursors to these characteristics are inferred on the basis of recent observational and experimental studies of non-human primates' socio-cognitive abilities including cultural transmission, psychological attributions and understanding the requirements of cooperation. Presented by Andrew Whiten and David Erdal (Psychology, University of St. Andrews, UK). Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

    • 50 min
    • video
    Metacognition and the Social Mind: How Individuals Interact at the Neural Level

    Metacognition and the Social Mind: How Individuals Interact at the Neural Level

    I will review recent research in neuroimaging and computation neuroscience, and present a new paradigm for studying decision making in pairs. Results from this paradigm demonstrate that discussion between the partners is necessary and sufficient for creating an advantage for the group decision and a more accurate picture of the world than can be achieved by either partner alone. I conclude that metacognition - the ability to introspect upon one's own experience and to communicate this to another - is the key to understanding the evolution of human cognition, including consciousness and group decision making. Presented by Chris Frith (Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL, UK) Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

    • 38 min
    • video
    Experiencing Language

    Experiencing Language

    The evolutionary relationship between human linguistic capacity and humans' emotional make-up has not, as yet, received focused attention. Was the evolution of language in our lineage possible because early hominines were emotionally different from their ancestors, and, if so, in what ways? Has language altered human emotions? We discuss and develop recent proposals that an important precondition for the evolution of human language was the evolution of social emotions in pre-linguistic humans. We suggest that as language evolved, it altered important aspects of human emotionality, leading to a co-evolutionary feedback between human linguistic ability and human emotions. Presented by Eva Jablonka, Daniel Dor, Simona Ginsburg (Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science, Tel Aviv University, Israel). Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

    • 43 min
    • video
    Signals, Honesty and the Evolution of Language

    Signals, Honesty and the Evolution of Language

    The evolution of language is a long-standing puzzle for many reasons. One is that its very virtues as a system of communication seem to open the door to ruinous free-riding and deception. This paper will locate and partially solve that problem within a framework explaining the evolution of honest signals and informational co-operation in human evolution, and will use that framework to develop a partial picture of language evolution. Presented by Kim Sterenly (Philosophy, Australian National University). Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

    • 49 min
    • video
    Embodiment: Taking Sociality Seriously

    Embodiment: Taking Sociality Seriously

    A very wise person of our acquaintance once said, 'Read old books to get new ideas'. Here, we pursue the ideas presented in old books by Lev Vygotsky and George Herbert Mead as a means to account for the differences in social life between human and non-human primates and, by extension, their cognition. We consider the contrasting perspectives of Vygotsky and Mead on the links between thought and language, and relate these to subsequent developments in the study of animal cognition, and the emergence of the fields of embodied and distributed cognition. We then use this synthesis to argue that, as Wundt originally suggested, the study of social life must be fundamentally social and situated, and cannot be a laboratory endeavour focused solely on processes within individuals. We use developments in social network analysis (specifically a new formalisation of social networks, which can be presented as multi-dimensional mathematical objects, 'tensors') to explore the possibilities of a new approach to comparative social cognition. This approach recognizes that sociality and behaviour are constitutive of cognition and not simply its visible manifestation, and emphasizes that there is no such thing as a social brain in isolation, but a complex nexus of brain, body and world. Presented by Louise Barrett, Peter Henzi and David Lusseau (Psychology, University of Lethbridge, Canada). Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

    • 43 min

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5
24 Ratings

24 Ratings

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