The Evolution of Cognitive Control
Article first published online: 27 JAN 2010
Copyright © 2010 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
Topics in Cognitive Science
Volume 2, Issue 4, pages 614–630, October 2010
How to Cite
Stout, D. (2010), The Evolution of Cognitive Control. Topics in Cognitive Science, 2: 614–630. doi: 10.1111/j.1756-8765.2009.01078.x
- Issue published online: 27 JAN 2010
- Article first published online: 27 JAN 2010
- Received 18 May 2009; received in revised form 1 October 2009; accepted 17 November 2009
- Executive function;
- Prefrontal cortex;
- Brain evolution;
- Social brain;
- Paleolithic archelogy;
One of the key challenges confronting cognitive science is to discover natural categories of cognitive function. Of special interest is the unity or diversity of cognitive control mechanisms. Evolutionary history is an underutilized resource that, together with neuropsychological and neuroscientific evidence, can help to provide a biological ground for the fractionation of cognitive control. Comparative evidence indicates that primate brain evolution has produced dissociable mechanisms for external action control and internal self-regulation, but that most real-world behaviors rely on a combination of these. The archeological record further indicates the timing and context of distinctively human elaborations to these cognitive control functions, including the gradual emergence of increasingly complex hierarchical action control.