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Thread: The Functional Brain Networks That Underlie Early Stone Age Tool Manufacture

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    The Functional Brain Networks That Underlie Early Stone Age Tool Manufacture

    As predicted toolmaking used the same neural pathways as music making. But Broca's area is not involved.

    After 800,000 years of making simple Oldowan tools, early humans began manufacturing Acheulian handaxes around 1.75 million years ago. This advance is hypothesized to reflect an evolutionary change in hominin cognition and language abilities. We used a neuroarchaeology approach to investigate this hypothesis, recording brain activity using functional near-infrared spectroscopy as modern human participants learned to make Oldowan and Acheulian stone tools in either a verbal or nonverbal training context. Here we show that Acheulian tool production requires the integration of visual, auditory and sensorimotor information in the middle and superior temporal cortex, the guidance of visual working memory representations in the ventral precentral gyrus, and higher-order action planning via the supplementary motor area, activating a brain network that is also involved in modern piano playing. The right analogue to Broca’s area—which has linked tool manufacture and language in prior work—was only engaged during verbal training. Acheulian toolmaking, therefore, may have more evolutionary ties to playing Mozart than quoting Shakespeare.
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-017-0102

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    This old classic paper shaped my views on human neuroevolution. You can predict other comon cultural activities such as dance for our toolmaking ancestors, perhaps,

    http://www.williamcalvin.com/1980s/1987Nature.htm

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