Attention plays a crucial role in cognition and behavior. To explain the cultural variability of attention, we postulated a general hypothesis of cultural adaptation, which assumes that the attentional mechanism co-evolves with objects in our environment. We employed a three-level approach composed of hypothesis-driven experiments, a large-scale database platform gathering results from various parts of the world (“Kokoro World Map”), and corpus-based analyses. This article reports on an attempt to apply this approach using visual search and the Stroop effect as examples. In visual search task, we began with hypothesis-driven experiments on search asymmetry, and is currently expanding to the construction of large-scale databases using online experiments and an ontology database. In the Stroop task, we constructed ontology and corpus-based analyses to formulate concrete hypotheses about the cultural evolution of cognitive control, which were examined by online and laboratory experiments. From these multi-level approaches, we also try to integrate the findings of cognitive science and those of archaeology and anthropology.
Anthropomorphic artifacts have unique characteristics, as they are closely related to social and technical cognition and contain complex information. However, their meanings can be elusive. The present study aimed to examine how modern Japanese people perceive the faces of Japanese prehistoric (13,000–800 cal BC) and protohistoric (AD 250–600) anthropomorphic artifacts by focusing on the facial expressions and impressions of clay figure faces. The study included 75 Japanese participants and 131 figure faces from three historical periods. The results showed that participants perceived the prehistoric and protohistoric facial expressions differently (as being happier, sadder, and less surprised), depending on the period they were created in. We examined the relationships between impressions and perceived expressions of the figure faces, and found that faces became more complicated due to the introduction of facial morphometric features. The results may be applicable to understanding the variation in Japanese figures, especially the faces.
The dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4) is associated with novelty-seeking and risk-taking behaviors that have had an adaptive value in the history of human migration. It also plays a role in moderating the extent to which people adhere to cultural norms and practices. The aim of this study was to replicate previous findings about how DRD4 polymorphism interacts with cultural differences in social orientation, which revealed Westerners’ emphasis on independence and East Asians’ emphasis on interdependence. Testing Japanese and European Canadian undergraduates (n = 784), we succeeded in replicating these previous findings: the Canadian students were more independent, whereas the Japanese students were more interdependent. However, none of the interaction effects between culture and DRD4 were significant. Implications for candidate gene research investigating gene–environment and gene–culture interactions are discussed.
After a specific point in history, hominin evolution accelerated to a level that could not be accounted for by natural selection alone. An alternative mechanism has been proposed based on mutual interaction among neural, cognitive, and ecological niches in a positive feedback loop (triadic niche construction [TNC]). Nevertheless, the trigger events for the cognitive revolution of Homo sapiens as well as the reasons for this event being limited to a single species remain unknown. In this paper, using a multidisciplinary approach involving psychology, neurobiology, and phenomenology, we propose a shift in the mechanisms underlying TNC, from TNC-1 in hominids to TNC-2 in Homo sapiens, to answer these questions. As the hominin brain expanded during TNC-1, latent cognitive capabilities were incubated within its neural framework to be expressed with a simple rewiring among brain areas in TNC-2, a quick and inexpensive process but one that requires a unique set of preconditions to commence. This process was bootstrapped by the advanced function of “projection,” which enabled humans to recognize the “self” in a particular time and space in the world, allowing the manipulation of this world (in both physical and symbolic dimensions) again in a “positive feedback loop.” Finally, on the basis of this hypothesis, we discuss the immediate problems to be addressed in the research fields of cognitive science, archeology, anthropology, and neurobiology.
Human uniqueness and its evolutionary basis are explored through a comparison between humans and our closest evolutionary animals. With this approach, any behavior not demonstrated by non-human animals is considered unique to humans. We often attribute human uniqueness to a highly sophisticated cognitive ability that seemingly exists only in humans. However, even though non-human animals do not demonstrate a certain behavior, it is too early to say that they cannot demonstrate it. In this article, I introduce some examples in which chimpanzees have a cognitive basis for some social or cultural behaviors but do not perform these in their everyday lives, which urges us to consider not only cognitive restrictions but also motivational restrictions. I propose four hypotheses to explain their inaction. This type of “growth allowance” of cognitive abilities may help animals survive when they are challenged under a novel selective pressure during the exploration of a new environment.
While crafts such as stone toolmaking date back 2.5–3.4 million years, the earliest undisputed evidence of human-created art comes from the Upper Paleolithic, 12,000–50,000 years ago. Since then, Homo sapiens have continuously created various forms of art. Although the evolutionary rationale behind crafting is straightforward, art’s justification in the general evolutionary context is not, leading to continuing research investigating why art arose without an obvious function aiding adaptation. Our previous research comparing the drawing behaviors of chimpanzees and human children suggested that representational drawing is inspired by likening (pareidolia) against the backdrop of language acquisition. Past studies on children’s drawings have shown that children’s pictures are representational schemas that reflect and transmit their knowledge of objects and incorporate it from others, moderated by cultural differences. After reviewing the cognitive foundation of artistic expression from the perspective of evolution and development, we will discuss how representational art has affected human evolution as a cognitive niche and consider how cognitive psychology can approach the archaeology of art.
This paper illustrates an ethnographic study that covers the practice of non/pre-modern craftsmanship in folk society, comprehending the mechanism of knowledge and skills which are difficult to visualize and verbalize. This study argues, the technical practice of craft production within folk social society encompasses the materialisation of the invisible/non-verbal implicit knowledge and embodied skills. Moreover, such knowledge and skills are not necessarily limited to non/pre-modern societies, but in contemporary societies after the Industrial Revolution. Finally, it shall be shown that, in Human history, forcing the separation of knowledge and skills, technology had become manualized and verbalized, which lead to an overwhelming majority of society becoming substitutable labourers, eradicating skilled professionals.
Archaeology, which explores the past based on material evidence, and psychology, which analyses the modern human mind, have long been thought to be very different in both subject matter and research methods. Still, they share the ultimate aim of clarifying what it means to be human. This paper summarizes the history and current status of archaeological research on the mind and discusses how it leads to an integrative human historical science development. Successful cross-disciplinary collaboration requires us to transcend the dichotomous view that has been the basis of modern Western science. In order to understand how culture is produced through the interaction of mind and matter, we need to focus on the human body and behavior while falling into neither biological determinism nor extreme cultural relativism. The endeavor of an integral human historical science goes beyond dichotomous thinking to transcend the barriers between the humanities and the sciences and open up new dimensions in studying the human being and shed light on the nature of the phenomenon we call civilization.