From single neurons to social brains

This source preferred by Fiona Coward

Authors: Coward, F.

Journal: Cambridge Archaeological Journal

Volume: 18

Issue: 3

Pages: 387-400

ISSN: 0959-7743

DOI: 10.1017/S0959774308000437

The manufacture of stone tools is an integral part of the human evolutionary trajectory.

However, very little research is directed towards the social and cognitive context of the process of manufacture. This article aims to redress this balance by using insights from contemporary neuroscience. Addressing successively more inclusive levels of analysis, we will argue that the relevant unit of analysis when examining the interface between archaeology and neuroscience is not the individual neuron, nor even necessarily the individual brain, but instead the socio-cognitive context in which brains develop and tools are manufactured and used. This context is inextricably linked to the development of unique ontogenetic scheduling, as evidenced by the fossil record of evolving hominin lineages.

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