IQ’s Corner: Can a Neandertal meditate? An evolutionary view of attention as a core component of general intelligence

 Can a Neandertal meditate? An evolutionary view of attention as a core component of general intelligence – ScienceDirect

Interesting speculations, particularly (IMHO) the role of attention in intelligence, which is related to contemporary research that has suggested that attentional control (Gwm-AC) may be one of the most central causal mechanisms of intelligence.

Attention might be considered a key component of intelligence, and its cognitive and neurobiological mechanisms probably underwent profound changes in the course of human evolution. Attention can be conceived as a “limiting factor” for general intelligence (g), as the ability to maintain a selective coordination of specific cognitive processes through time regardless of conflicting stimuli. In this perspective review, we consider the paleontological and archaeological evidence that may supply information on the evolution of the attention system in the human genus. In terms of anatomy, the paleoneurological record suggests that the parietal cortex experienced a relative enlargement in Neandertals and, most prominently, in modern humans. These anatomical variations match cultural changes associated with technological and social complexity. Inferences in cognitive archaeology indicate that Homo sapiens is also specialized for working memory and visuospatial integration, when compared with extinct human taxa. These features are likely associated with changes in the attention system, and in cognitive processes dealing with meta-awareness, conscious control of mind wandering, resistance to distractors, and management of emotional clues. Although these inferences are inevitably speculative, they might stimulate a comprehensive interpretation of the technological and social behaviours associated with the evolution of the human genus, bridging together psychology and evolutionary anthropology.


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