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View Full Version : Evolution: Toolmaking and language skills link



Captain Con O'Sullivan
04-11-2010, 11:37 AM
Interesting article covering some research at Imperial College neuroscience labs.

It appears that toolmaking skills and language skills may have been linked closely together in the lower paleolithic period when homo sapiens began to move across the earth.

'Brain scans of modern stone-tool makers show that key areas in the brain's right hemisphere become more active when they switch from making stone flakes to more advanced tools. Intriguingly, some of these brain regions are involved in language processing.'

and

'"Our study reinforces the idea that toolmaking and language evolved together as both required more complex thought, making the end of the lower paleolithic a pivotal time in our history. After this period, early humans left Africa and began to colonise other parts of the world."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/nov/03/language-hand-toolmaking-evolution

I've been interested in the advances in understanding of how the mind works by the technology of brainscanning- essentially seeing what sections of the brain light up when measuring selected human activities.

I've also seen this new scientific advance being misused unfortunately. In one example I saw a Professor present plates with coloured slides showing which areas of the brain are 'highlighted' during alcohol intoxication. The fact that the Professor had chosen to highlight those areas in the colour red was to my mind a clear attempt to portray the activity as 'damage'. Also the lack of comparable slides to show what activity there was in the brain for a control substance such as a soft drink or milk or any other effort at control made me suspicious.

In the same presentation the Professor had used a powerpoint slide which claimed that 'advertising drives alcohol consumption'. When I asked her about it she replied she had got that information from an alcohol abuse advocacy group presentation and obviously regarded the information as a given.

I searched for five years for any indication that alcohol advertising drives consumption and could find none. In fact I found a lot of evidence that it did no such thing.

Beware of Professors bearing highlighted scans of brain activity.... but still its a fascinating area of research.