Sign in: Staff/Students
The brain activity of an experienced flint-knapper is monitored using a Transcranial Doppler Ultrasound, as he works the stone
Research by the University of Liverpool has found that the same brain activity is used for language production and making complex tools, supporting the theory that they evolved at the same time.
Researchers from the University tested the brain activity of 10 expert stone tool makers (flint knappers) as they undertook a stone tool-making task and a standard language test.
Brain blood flow activity measured
They measured the brain blood flow activity of the participants as they performed both tasks using functional Transcranial Doppler Ultrasound (fTCD), commonly used in clinical settings to test patients’ language functions after brain damage or before surgery.
The researchers found that brain patterns for both tasks correlated, suggesting that they both use the same area of the brain. Language and stone tool-making are considered to be unique features of humankind that evolved over millions of years.
Three hand axes produced by participants in the experiment. Front, back and side views are shown
Darwin was the first to suggest that tool-use and language may have co-evolved, because they both depend on complex planning and the coordination of actions but until now there has been little evidence to support this.
Dr Georg Meyer, from the University Department of Experimental Psychology, said: “This is the first study of the brain to compare complex stone tool-making directly with language.
Tool use and language co-evolved
“Our study found correlated blood-flow patterns in the first 10 seconds of undertaking both tasks. This suggests that both tasks depend on common brain areas and is consistent with theories that tool-use and language co-evolved and share common processing networks in the brain.”
Dr Natalie Uomini from the University’s Department of Archaeology, Classics & Egyptology, said: “Nobody has been able to measure brain activity in real time while making a stone tool. This is a first for both archaeology and psychology.”
The research was supported by the Leverhulme Trust, the Economic and Social Research Council and the British Academy. It is published in PLOS ONE.
More proof that flintknapping is the origin of swearing.
Didn’t Fredriech Engels make similar observations. ‘The part played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man’, for example.
You must be logged in to post a comment.
All recent news
Feel Good February: Happy Healthy You
University launches UK first Research Technical Professional Career Pathway
New digital tools use climate data to tackle infectious disease outbreaks
World Cancer Day: A year in research
Eurovision needs you – volunteering opportunities available
Today is #WorldCancerDay and an opportunity for us to reflect on a busy year for cancer research for #TeamLivUni scientists, who continue to work on prevention, screening, diagnostics & therapeutics for the benefit of cancer patients.
Read more here: https://news.liverpool.ac.uk/2023/02/03/world-cancer-day-a-year-in-research/
In a UK first, we've launched a new Research Technical Professional Career Pathway. Technical & research support staff are essential to UK research & innovation, and this scheme aims to improve the career pathways of colleagues in these roles.
A new digital tool will use climate data to help better predict and prepare for infectious disease outbreaks in the Horn of Africa.
Funded by @wellcometrust, the project is led by @LivUni_IVES with partners from Italy, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda & Somalia.