Construction of the New River Gorge Bridge, courtesy NPS

Culture — the ability to communicate ideas across vast networks and over generations — is part of what makes our species uniquely human. But how did our capacity for culture arise, and how has it impacted our evolution?

In a themed issue in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, B, a collection of papers from diverse fields tackles these questions. "The aim of this issue is to advance interdisciplinary discussion of the roles that culture plays in shaping the course of human evolution," write the issue’s editors — SFI External Professor Marcus Feldman, SFI collaborator Oren Kolodny, and Nicole Creanza (Vanderbilt University).

The issue, Bridging cultural gaps: interdisciplinary studies in human cultural evolutiondraws on insights from anthropology, archaeology, biology, computer science, ecology, and psychology. "The papers in this theme issue demonstrate that the study of cultural evolution is broadly relevant across many disciplines and that numerous fields can also shed new light on cultural evolution," write the editors.

Below are links to articles within the issue with SFI-affiliated co-authors:

  1. (Preface) Bridging cultural gaps: interdisciplinary studies in human cultural evolutionOren Kolodny, Marcus W. Feldman, Nicole Creanza
  2. (Introduction) Integrative studies of cultural evolution: crossing disciplinary boundaries to produce new insights
    Oren Kolodny, Marcus W. Feldman, Nicole Creanza
  3. (Opinion piece) The evolution of the capacity for language: the ecological context and adaptive value of a process of cognitive hijackingOren Kolodny, Shimon Edelman
  4. (Review) Generative inference for cultural evolution: Anne Kandler, Adam Powell
  5. (Research): Divide and conquer: intermediate levels of population fragmentation maximize cultural accumulation: Maxime Derex, Charles Perreault (former Omidyar Fellow), Robert Boyd
  6. (Research): Missing compared to what? Revisiting heritability, genes and cultureMarcus W. Feldman, Sohini Ramachandran

Read the full issue, Bridging cultural gaps: interdisciplinary studies in human cultural evolution, in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (February 12, 2018)