Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary

Evo-devo, modularity, and evolvability: Insights for cultural evolution

Simon M. Reader a1
a1 Department of Behavioural Biology and Helmholtz Institute, Utrecht University, Utrecht 3508 TB, The Netherlands.

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Evolutionary developmental biology (“evo-devo”) may provide insights and new methods for studies of cognition and cultural evolution. For example, I propose using cultural selection and individual learning to examine constraints on cultural evolution. Modularity, the idea that traits vary independently, can facilitate evolution (increase “evolvability”), because evolution can act on one trait without disrupting another. I explore links between cognitive modularity, evolutionary modularity, and cultural evolvability.

(Published Online November 9 2006)