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The adaptive nature of the human neurocognitive architecture: An alternative model

La Cerra, Peggy and Bingham, Roger (1998) The adaptive nature of the human neurocognitive architecture: An alternative model. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 95 (19). pp. 11290-11294. ISSN 0027-8424. PMCID PMC21635. doi:10.1073/pnas.95.19.11290.

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The model of the human neurocognitive architecture proposed by evolutionary psychologists is based on the presumption that the demands of hunter-gatherer life generated a vast array of cognitive adaptations. Here we present an alternative model. We argue that the problems inherent in the biological markets of ancestral hominids and their mammalian predecessors would have required an adaptively flexible, on-line information-processing system, and would have driven the evolution of a functionally plastic neural substrate, the neocortex, rather than a confederation of evolutionarily prespecified social cognitive adaptations. In alignment with recent neuroscientific evidence, we suggest that human cognitive processes result from the activation of constructed cortical representational networks, which reflect probabilistic relationships between sensory inputs, behavioral responses, and adaptive outcomes. The developmental construction and experiential modification of these networks are mediated by subcortical circuitries that are responsive to the life history regulatory system. As a consequence, these networks are intrinsically adaptively constrained. The theoretical and research implications of this alternative evolutionary model are discussed.

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Additional Information:© 1998 The National Academy of Sciences. Communicated by George C. Williams, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY, July 9, 1998 (received for review March 18, 1998). We thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful observations. For incisive comments on earlier drafts, we thank John Allman, Linda Blitz, Leslie Brothers, Patricia Churchland, Nancy Etcoff, Tal Garfinkel, Roger Masters, Michael McGuire, V. S. Ramachandran, Terrence Sejnowski, and Donald Symons. We thank Terrence Sejnowski for additional discussions. R.B. also thanks Florence Bingham, Chuck, Ronnie and Muni Blitz, and Jeremy Sherman for their contributions. P.L.C. sincerely thanks Bruce Anderson, Cassie Bennett, Valerie Bennett, Jaden Bennett-Andrade, Linda Blitz, Behzad Boroumand, Deborah Brown, Deanna Clear, Riki Dennis, Lisa Farwell, Viola Hall, John Hench, the La Cerras, Vince Pisani, Roberto Refinetti, Gail Shannon, and especially Tom Stefl for invaluable support. R.B. gratefully acknowledges the L. K. Whittier Foundation, which provided support for a book project that required radical revision as a consequence of the scientific shift in understanding presented in this paper. P.L.C. also thanks the McDonnell Foundation for a fellowship to the Cognitive Neuroscience Summer Institute on neural plasticity and evolutionary psychology. The publication costs of this article were defrayed in part by page charge payment. This article must therefore be hereby marked ‘‘advertisement’’ in accordance with 18 U.S.C. §1734 solely to indicate this fact.
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L. K. Whittier FoundationUNSPECIFIED
McDonnell FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:19
PubMed Central ID:PMC21635
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20141125-151822638
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Official Citation:Cerra, P. L., & Bingham, R. (1998). The adaptive nature of the human neurocognitive architecture: An alternative model. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 95(19), 11290-11294. doi: 10.1073/pnas.95.19.11290
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:52163
Deposited On:26 Nov 2014 15:44
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 19:22

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