John Tooby and Leda Cosmides

The human brain is a biological system produced by the evolutionary process, and thus, cognitive neuroscience is itself a branch of evolutionary biology. Accordingly, cognitive neuro-scientists can benefit by learning about and applying the technical advances made in modern evolutionary biology. Among other things, evolutionary biology can supply researchers with

(1) the biologically rigorous concept of function appropriate to neural and cognitive systems,

(2) a growing list of the specialized functions the human brain evolved to perform, and (3) the ability to distinguish the narrowly functional aspects of the neural and cognitive architecture that are responsible for its organization from the much larger set of properties that are byproducts or noise. With these and other tools, researchers can construct experimental stimuli and tasks that activate and are meaningful to functionally dedicated subunits of the brain. The brain is comprised of many such subunits: evolutionarily meaningful stimuli and tasks are far more likely than arbitrary ones to elicit responses that can illuminate their complex functional organization.

Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. —T. Dobzhansky

It is the theory which decides what we can observe. —A. Einstein

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