Questions: Rise of Homo sapiens
Introduction
1. According to Coolidge and Wynn, what changed that ultimately led to the demise of the Neanderthals?
2. What is the connection between the story of Phineas Gage and the frontal lobes?
3. Define ‘executive functions.’
4. Describe the two great leaps in cognition.

Chapter 2
1. Where is the first instance of the use of the term ‘brain?”
2. Describe some of the cases found in the Edwin Smith papyrus? What does it tell us about ancient medicine?
3. Describe the four guiding principles of brain ontogeny: cell proliferation, migration differentiation and death (or apoptosis).
4. Provide a basic overview of the 4 lobes of the brain and their functions. Be sure to address:
 Broadmann areas
 Pre-frontal cortex
 Cingulate cortex
 Supermarginal/angular gyri
 Broca’s & Wernike’s areas
5. Describe major structures of limbic system. Be sure to include:
 H.M. and hippocampus
 Amygdala
 Basal ganglia – especially substania nigra
6. Subcortical structures: Thalamus, hypothalamus, brain stem, cerebellum.
7. What is the possible connection between handedness and language, and what is the relevance of stone tools?
8. Describe the visual system and how it organization is relevant to split-brain research.
9. Describes some brain ‘myths’ and the evidence relevant to them.
 
Chapter 3
1. Describe “trace” vs. “interference” notions of STM. Why was neither a complete model of the functioning of STM.
2. Describe the basic outline of Baddeley and Hitch’s model of working memory.
3. What functions are ascribed to the central executive and parts of the brain are thought to be responsible for these functions?
4. What are the sub-systems of the phonological loop? What are their functions and what brain areas are likely to be associated with these sub-systems.
5. What are the functions of the visio-spatial sketchpad and what brain areas are associated with it?
6. What role does the episodic buffer play in WM?
7. Describe the distinction between declarative and procedural memory.
8. How is episodic memory associated with autoneotic consciousness? What evolutionary function might autoneotic consciousness have served? What parts of the brain are important in this?
9. How is WM capacity defined, measured, and what abilities does it correlate with?

Chapter 4
1. What are regulatory genes and how are they relevant to the surprisingly small number of genes unique to humans.
2. Describe how the development of greater lateralization in the male brain is both genetic and environmental in nature.
3. Describe how experience can produce biological brain differences.
4. Describe how the combination of mutation and selection can act as a “creative” force in evolution.
5. What is epigenetics and how does it change our traditional understanding of genetic transmission?
6. Define evolutionary psychology and what are its basic assumptions and features?
7. What is exaptation and how does it represent an important constraint on evolution?
8. Why must brains be “traded-off” metabolically and how might this be done?
9. Describe the comparative method of study and the role of homologous vs. analogous structures in this method.
10. Give examples of “derived” vs. “ancestral” features.
11. What is an endocast and what can it tell us (and not tell us) about the brains of our ancestors?
12. What is EQ and what  does it tell us about brain size?
13. What appears to distinguish human brains from the brains of our ancestors?
14. What challenges face the discipline of “cognitive archeology?” What kinds of fossil remains can be used to address cognitive issues?
15. What is reverse engineering and what are its pitfalls in evolutionary studies?

Chapter 5
1. Name some of the features commonly found among primates.
2. Name some of the important features of primate visual systems and the advantages and disadvantages of these features.
3. Name two unique features of anthropoid (monkey & ape) brains and their purpose.
4. How are folivory, frugivory and social complexity related to brain size?
5. What if life history and how is it related to brain size?
6. What unique features do great ape brains possess and what are the advantages and disadvantages of these features?
7. What is the Machiavellian intelligence hypothesis and how is it related to deception, theory of mind and social complexity?
8. Describe the “false belief” and mirror recognition tasks. What do they measure and how do children and apes perform on these tasks. How might executive functions be related to their performance?
9. How can you measure working memory in an ape and what do the results suggest about ape working memory capacity?
 

Chapter 6
1. What is a hominin and what are the four “adaptive complexes” that characterize hominins?
2. What is meant by the common ancestor and what features did it likely posses?
3. Describe some of the important characteristics of the earliest bipedal apes (where are they found, what are they called, what did they eat, how did they move about, what were they mating patterns/social lives like, etc.)
4. Discuss the earliest stone tools. How were they made, what were they used for, what do they indicate about hominin intelligence?
5. Who is Kanzi and what does he tell us about the mental and physical abilities necessary for tool manufacture?
6. What is “action level imitation” and how is it relevant in comparing chimpanzee nut-cracking with hominin tool manufacture from the Lokalalei site?
7. Where the earliest hominin tool-makers hunters? What evidence is relevant in assessing this question?
8. Discuss the confusion of separating the early Homo species (habilis, rudolfensis) from later species of Australopithecus.
9. What is a grade shift and what evidence do Coolidge and Wynn cite in arguing for one in the early species of Homo?

Chapter 7
1. Describe the physical characteristics of Nariokotome boy and what they indicate regarding his lifestyle, diet, locomotion, and life history.
2.   What is the evolutionary relationship between Homo erectus and Homo ergaster.
3. What is mode 2 technology? When did it emerge? What distinguishes it from mode 1, and what critical mental change does it represent – especially bifaces?
4. How does fully terrestrial life affect handedness and how might this be related to language?
5. Did Homo erectus control fire? How might fire have affected its social/cognitive evolution?
6. What characteristics indicate that erectus crossed an important threshold in human evolution?
7. How might male/female relations have changed with erectus and what evidence indicates this?
8. What parts of the brain are critical to tool manufacture?
9. What evidence indicates that erectus made (some) tools for social and not practical reasons?
10. What conclusion do Coolidge and Wynn draw concerning the mental capacities of erectus and what parts of the working memory system are involved in this?

Chapter 8
1. Why do Coolidge and Wynn believe that real increases in brain and body size required a move to ground-based sleeping?
2. Describe the different stages of sleep and the characteristics of each.
3. What is the hypnagogic jerk and what might it represent in the evolution of sleeping?
4. What role might muscle atonia play in sleep?
5. How might deactivation of the dlPFC affect sleep and dreaming?
6. What are the possible evolutionary functions of sleep?
7. What important change in sleeping behavior is associated with great apes (compared to monkeys and lesser apes), and how might this have affected them socially, physically, and mentally?
8. What specific benefits do Coolidge and Wynn propose came from a nest-to-ground transition in sleep?
9. What evidence is there for a “threat-simulation” function for sleep?
10. Describe some of the anecdotal and experimental evidence pertaining to sleep and innovation.
11. What is the connection between memory consolidation, REM sleep and sleep venue (trees, vs. nesting, vs. ground)?
12. What types of memories (semantic, episodic, procedural) seem to benefit most from increased REM sleep?
13. What are the strong and weak conclusions that authors draw about sleep and cognitive evolution?

Chapter 9
1. Describe the evolutionary origins of Homo heidelbergensis and what distinguishes it from Homo erectus?
2. Distinguish technique from refinement. What new techniques arose in later erectus/heidelbergensis?
3. What is refitting? How does it help us understand the intentions behind tool-making, especially the 400,000 year old Boxgrove debitage pile?
4. What is debitage and faconnage?
5. What are some of the archeological remains that suggest an advance in cognition among Homo heidelbergensis (for example, in tool making, landscape use, non-utilitarian artifacts, etc.)?
6. Describe the spatial and technical intelligence of Homo heidelbergensis. What aspects of WM are involved in these abilities?
7. Is there evidence for symbolic cognition in heidelbergensis? How might the distinction between “symbols” and “indices” be important here?
8. What can we conclude about the possible language abilities of heidelbergensis?
9. How does the Boxgrove debitage pile provide us with firm evidence for WM, and how do prepared core techniques assure us of the presence of executive functions?

Chapter 10
1. Why is the demise of the Neanderthals (or Neandertals) both evolutionarily trivial and highly significant?
2. How have the Neanderthals, a species long gone for nearly 30,000 years, gotten caught up in modern day social/political battles?
3. What are the evolutionary origins of the Neanderthals and what were their brains and bodies like relative to anatomically modern humans?
4. What does the archeological evidence indicate regarding their technology, subsistence practices, and general lifestyle?
5. What is the Levallois technique and what does it indicate regarding Neanderthal tool-making and cognitive ability?
6. Discuss the “evidence” for symbolism among Neanderthals such as burials, use of pigments, and “art.” How convincing is this evidence?
7. What do the authors mean when they say that Neanderthal social life was “local” in nature and how does this contrast with that of anatomically modern humans?
8. What does the evidence from Neanderthal habitation sites, such as the presence of hearths and the “structure” of their campsites suggest about their social lives?
9. What is “division of labor” how might it be important in understanding Neanderthal social life?
10. What is “procedural expert knowledge” and how, according to Coolidge and Wynn, might it explain Neanderthal technical prowess?
11. What is shared attention and what evidence suggests it played an “individualized” rather that “group-wide” role in Neanderthal social life?
12. Discuss the evidence that suggests that Neanderthals had an enhancement of working memory relative to Homo heidelbergensis, but a more limited capacity relative to modern humans?

Chapter 11
1. Why does Eric Trinkaus argue that “it is we” who are unusual and not Neanderthals?
2. What derived characteristics of humans do the authors find most important and why?
3. What is meant by the distinction between anatomically modern humans vs. behaviorally modern humans?
4. What is meant by the European replacement model and why do the authors believe that is has been unfortunate for understanding cognitive evolution?
5. What do the authors mean by “an additive genetic or epigenetic” change?
6. How might this change have affected phonetic storage capacity and therefore language?
7. How might this change have affected episodic memory?
8. What evidence do the authors find in the archeological record that indicates an enhancement of working memory capacity beyond just expert procedural knowledge? What dates correspond to this evidence and how far back in time can they push their findings?
9. What is the significant brain difference that Bruner finds between Neanderthals and humans and what role might this play in cognitive evolution?
10. What role might the Blambos beads play in the formation of social concepts. Why is this not necessarily symbolic?
11. Summarize the two key steps the authors hypothesize in the formation of the modern human mind.