What Do We Know about the Evolution of Human Thought?

In a recent blog post I objected to Richard Lewontin's claim that we know nothing about the evolution of the human brain.  Apparently my reaction was shared by quite a few researchers in the field.  Michael Balter describes their reaction at an interdisciplinary panel that was also held at this year's AAAS annual meeting.

One thing that seems to drive some of these discussions is a difference of opinion about whether their is an insurmountable gap between human intelligence and what other animals can do.  This connects with the ongoing debate about the importance of genetic factors.  But there seems to be no doubt that this is an extremely fruitful area of research.

"How Human Intelligence Evolved--Is It Science or 'Paleofantasy'?" by Michael Balter. Science 22 February 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5866, p. 1028

Taking Tests Might Help Your Memory!

There is an interesting paper in this week's Science magazine that suggests that being tested might be an essential component of making what we study part of longterm memory.  In the study, students had memorize Swahili-English word pairs.  According to the authors,"Repeated studying after learning had no effect on delayed recall, but repeated testing produced a large positive effect."

"The Critical Importance of Retrieval for Learning," by Jeffrey D. Karpicke and Henry L. Roediger, III2, Science 15 February 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5865, pp. 966 - 968