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Evolutionary perspectives on cognition


Status Cancelled
School Nationell Forskarskola i Kognitionsvetenskap (SweCog)
Division GU
Owner Åsa Kärrman

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Course plan

No of Lectures

• 2 days with 3 two hour sessions and one day with one two hour session + perhaps a shorter concluding session.
• Course seminars in october 2012

Recommended for

Graduate students

The course was last given




1. We start by introducing some central concepts in evolutionary theory. What types of explanations are supported by the Darwinian framework, and what evidence is supporting those explanations? These are questions to be raised in this seminar.
2. The comparative and evolutionary study of nonhuman animal cognition: cognitive ethology.
3. Evolutionary psychology (with focus on human cognition)
4. Modularity
5. Evolutionary aspects of communication
6. Archeological and anthropological perspectives on human cognition.
7. Evolution of brain and emotion
8. Critique of evolutionary perspectives on cognition.


This course will provide students with examples of what evolutionary theory can teach us about cognition, as well as an understanding of some of the key concepts of Darwinian evolutionary. The evolutionary perspective on cognition is not yet another sub-discipline under the multidisciplinary umbrella called cognitive science. Rather, it is a conceptual framework with applicability on a broad variety of issues, such as for example the modeling of cognitive information processing, the neural basis and evolutionary history of cognitive mechanisms, the cognitive as well as neural basis and evolution of social cognition and communication. In short, the evolutionary stance toward the cognitive domain contributes not only to a better understanding of the evolutionary background of such phenomena, but also to our ability to map out cognitive mechanisms and processes, as well as their neural basis.


• Darwin, C. 1859/19XX (to be found online) On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
• Darwin, C. 1872. The expression of the emotions in man and animals.
• Gangestad, S.W. and Simpson, J.A. eds. 2007. The evolution of mind: fundamental questions and controversies, eds. The Guilford Press. (Shortened: TEM; the main book of the course)
• Journal articles – see above schedule.


• 2 days with 3 two hour sessions and one day with one two hour session + perhaps a shorter concluding session.
• Course seminars in october 2012



Examination seminar in december 2012

Examination task:
o Write an essay, about ten pages, on issues brought up during the course.
o Defend the thesis in December, and oppose a thesis written by a fellow student.


7,5 hp

Page responsible: Director of Graduate Studies
Last updated: 2012-05-03