Précis of Origins of the modern mind: Three stages in the evolution of culture and cognition

  title={Pr{\'e}cis of Origins of the modern mind: Three stages in the evolution of culture and cognition},
  author={MERLIN W. Donald},
  journal={Behavioral and Brain Sciences},
  pages={737 - 748}
  • M. Donald
  • Published 1 December 1993
  • Psychology, Biology, Art
  • Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Abstract This book proposes a theory of human cognitive evolution, drawing from paleontology, linguistics, anthropology, cognitive science, and especially neuropsychology. The properties of humankind's brain, culture, and cognition have coevolved in a tight iterative loop; the main event in human evolution has occurred at the cognitive level, however, mediating change at the anatomical and cultural levels. During the past two million years humans have passed through three major cognitive… 


Recent theological anthropology emphasizes a dynamic and integral understanding of the human being, which is also related to Karl Rahner's idea of active self-transcendence and to the imago Dei

George Henry Lewes (1817–1878): Embodied Cognition, Vitalism, and the Evolution of Symbolic Perception

To date, George Henry Lewes’ contributions to the intellectual culture of Victorian Britain have been overshadowed by the literary success of his partner, Marian Evans (better known by her pen name,

The cognitive functions of language

  • P. Carruthers
  • Psychology, Philosophy
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • 2002
The idea is proposed that natural language is the medium for non-domain-specific thinking, serving to integrate the outputs of a variety of domain-specific conceptual faculties (or central-cognitive “quasi-modules”).

The Missing Link in Cognition: Origins of Self-Reflective Consciousness

This book discusses the development of consciousness in early human development, a continuum of self-consciousness that emerges in phylogeny and ontogeny, and two normative roles for self- consciousness.


This paper presents a speculative model of the cognitive mechanisms underlying the transition from episodic to mimetic (or memetic) culture with the arrival of Homo erectus, which Donald [1991]

Brains evolution and neurolinguistic preconditions

It is suggested that the neural preconditions for language are met in H. habilis and advocated a theory of language acquisition that uses conceptual structure as input to the learning procedures, thus bridging the gap between it and language.

Human Evolution, Niche Complexity, and the Emergence of a Distinctively Human Imagination

The quest for understanding the human propensity for religious imagination can be aided by investigating more fully the core role of the evolutionary transition between becoming and being human, as well as the role of cooperation in human evolution.



Language, tools and brain: The ontogeny and phylogeny of hierarchically organized sequential behavior.

Chimpanzees have an identical constraint on hierarchical complexity in both tool use and symbol combination, which matches that of the two-year-old child who has not yet developed the neural circuits for complex grammar and complex manual combination of objects.

Laterality and human evolution.

The question of whether there is a fundamental discontinuity between humans and other primates is discussed in relation to the predominantly human pattern of right-handedness and the left-cerebral representation of language, and it is suggested that this mode is characterized by generativity.

An Evolutionary Epistemological Approach to the Evolution of Intelligence

At the end of a lengthy survey of the comparative mental powers of man and other animals, Darwin (1871) concluded that “the difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is,

A developmental model for the evolution of language and intelligence in early hominids

It is proposed that the common ancestor of the great apes and man displayed rudimentary forms of late sensorimotor and early preoperational intelligence similar to that of one- to four-year-old children, which arose as adaptations for extractive foraging with tools, which requires a long postweaning apprenticeship.

Précis of Elements of episodic memory

  • E. Tulving
  • Psychology
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • 1984
Abstract Elements of episodic memory (Tulving 1983b) consists of three parts. Part I argues for the distinction between episodic and semantic memory as functionally separate albeit closely

Fractionating language: different neural subsystems with different sensitive periods.

Comparisons of event-related brain potentials elicited by words that provide primarily semantic information and grammatical information and the effects of the altered early language experience of congenitally deaf subjects on ERPs to open and closed class words suggest that nonidentical neural systems with different developmental vulnerabilities mediate these different aspects of language.

The Biology and Evolution of Language

Drawing on data from anatomy, neurophysiology, physiology, and behavioral biology, Lieberman develops a new approach to the puzzle of language, arguing that it is the result of many evolutionary compromises.

On the Origins of Language: An Introduction to the Evolution of Human Speech

phonological systems or on the basis of their fidelity to model systems than on the basis of the success of the larger revolutions with which they are associated: revolutions in the production and

Babbling in the manual mode: evidence for the ontogeny of language.

Manual babbling has now been reported to occur in deaf children exposed to signed languages from birth, and the similarities between manual and vocal babbling suggest that babbling is a product of an amodal, brain-based language capacity under maturational control.

The Fuzzy Set Called “Imitations”

This chapter will share in the endeavors of the other contributors to this book by analyzing and crystallizing the concept of “imitation” that was taken over as an “unexamined concept” (Kaplan, 1964) from everyday language.