Analyses of action-perception matching mechanisms, such as the Mirror Neuron System (MNS), have been prominent in evolutionary accounts of human cognition. Some scholars have interpreted data on the MNS to suggest that the human capacity to acquire and transmit cultural information is a learned product of cultural evolution (the Culture not Biology Account of cultural learning). Others have interpreted results related to the MNS to suggest that cultural learning in humans result from both cultural and biological evolution (the Culture per biology Account of cultural learning).
In this paper, we analyse action-perception matching mechanisms considering evolutionary models and novel experimental findings about the MNS. We review the Culture not biology account plausibility within evolutionary theory and argue that as it stands this account is theoretically unsound. We finally argue for the plausibility of the Biology per culture account and discuss how it paves the way to further neurobiological investigations about the evolution of our capacity to learn, understand and transmit cultural information.
There is wide agreement that culture had a driving role in human evolution, and that human intelligence depends on the capacity to acquire, understand, and transmit cultural information in development and across generations. The evolution of culture in hominids regards the acquisition, innovation and transmission of tools, communicative gestures and language, cooperative actions and rituals. Based on these assumptions, cultural learning is investigated in a comparative and…
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