What is the “New Thinking” about Human Cognitive Evolution? « The Cultural Niche

Posted: August 6, 2012 in cognition/consciousness, culture, Ideas

Written language was only developed around six thousand years ago, and until relatively recently, essentially every human on earth was illiterate. No one would argue that the brain systems that support reading are products of natural selection; it is a novel function that our brains acquire. Reading shows all of the signs of being another domain-specific modular construction, the kind that would have been assumed to be genetically based if we didn’t already know that it wasn’t. There is even a part of the brain—a posterior patch of the left midfusiform gyrus—that reliably activates when it is presented with written letters and nothing else. Some researchers have named it the “visual word form area” (though others have challenged how specific it is). Nevertheless, reading activates a recurring network in the same way as other actions which are argued to have deep evolutionary roots.

via What is the “New Thinking” about Human Cognitive Evolution? « The Cultural Niche.

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