Neuroplasticity enables bio-cultural feedback in Paleolithic stone-tool making

Erin Elisabeth Hecht, Justin Pargeter, Nada Khreisheh, Dietrich Stout

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Stone-tool making is an ancient human skill thought to have played a key role in the bio-cultural co-evolutionary feedback that produced modern brains, culture, and cognition. To test the proposed evolutionary mechanisms underpinning this hypothesis we studied stone-tool making skill learning in modern participants and examined interactions between individual neurostructural differences, plastic accommodation, and culturally transmitted behavior. We found that prior experience with other culturally transmitted craft skills increased both initial stone tool-making performance and subsequent neuroplastic training effects in a frontoparietal white matter pathway associated with action control. These effects were mediated by the effect of experience on pre-training variation in a frontotemporal pathway supporting action semantic representation. Our results show that the acquisition of one technical skill can produce structural brain changes conducive to the discovery and acquisition of additional skills, providing empirical evidence for bio-cultural feedback loops long hypothesized to link learning and adaptive change.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number2877
    JournalScientific reports
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Dec 2023

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General


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