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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Ordering and Executive Functioning as a Window on the Evolution and Development of Cognitive Systems


We summarize some key features of our comparative and developmental programme at Edinburgh with particular reference to serial ordering and executive control as a window on the growth of cognitive competences in both evolution and development. Based on research on relational rather than associative learning mechanisms, we first argue that nonhuman primates share some core conceptual representations supporting semantic and rational development in humans. Reviewing recent findings from comparative work on seriation and classification, we also show that non-human primates can use ordering mechanisms similar to those that emerge during human development. From theses analyses, we argue that key features of thought and language have strong evolutionary precursors.

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