Throughout evolution humans have relied on material tools in order to function daily living and survival conditions. Adaptation of technical strategies can be depicted to impact the advancement of neurocognitive development in Homo sapiens. Indeed, it plausible that active cultural and tool engagement has promoted certain psychological mechanisms to evolve towards the continuing present day and age of technology.  Recent research outlines that unique human materials capabilities reflect innate cognitive structures that is not mutually shared among other primates. Overtime, material culture can be seen to influence the human meanings, values, and behavior. This paper will demonstrate that the cultural materialism has reinforced the development of social identity and consciousness. First, it will discuss how social tool-making practices conditioned adaptation of learned behaviors leading to neurological alterations. Second, it will exemplify the symbolic significance of materialism in promoting communication, meaningfulness, and reciprocal relations essential for survival. Lastly, it will emphasize…

According to Jeffares (2010), the constant need to travel due to unstable and patchy environmental conditions has led hominins to construct mental maps and cues of potential resources or threat. In order to survive, hominins show awareness of short-term needs and capabilities along with long-term goals towards their environmental setting. Whilst traveling, the carriage of tools enacts as a cognitive mechanism to elicit attention and awareness to regulate strategies and preparations to external threats (Jeffares, 2010). Indeed, stone tools mediated the interaction between complex environmental demands and cognitive processes by prompting association of the stimuli with certain behavioral responses in specific conditions. The interaction of constant tool usage and carriage can be seen to shape the hominin mind to elevate cognitive functions of working memory (Jeffares, 2010).  [relate to thesis]

Further, archaeological artifacts of hand axe knapping dated 500,000 years old indicate that the evolution of spatial cognition in Homicide erectus (Wynn and Coolidge, 2016). It has been suggested that knapping stone tools acquired visual-spatial processing of spatial recognition and spatial relations. This can be seen in the three-dimensional symmetries present with hand axes that associate with high levels of ventro-dorsal processing (Wynn and Coolidge, 2016). This differs from earlier tool use, as knapping hand axes acquired allocentric perceptual abilities of encoding objects relative to its constant spatial position. Thus, the evolution of hand axes tools shows to impact the development of visuospatial processing of allocentric perception of objects.

It is likely that allocentric perception derived from knapping of stone tools converged to human wayfinding abilities. Humans differ in comparison to other primates in their abilities to utilize maps and navigate in environment without prior exposure. According to Wynn and Coolidge (2016), allocentric perception enables following symbolic representations on maps when navigating in novel areas. This involves activation of the same neural visuospatial pathways seen in knapping techniques and differs from common surveying of information from prior experience seen with primates. For this reason, humans exemplify an advantage of possessing both survey and allocentric capabilities which may have contributed to the evolution of higher cognitive functions.

Specifically, social interactions in humans exhibit greater abstract thinking and acquires adaptation of implicit displays rules and complex skills. Social cognition plays an important role in daily functioning as humans require to comprehend what other’s may be thinking and realize that everyone’s reality is different. This unique social ability in humans has shown to be associated with Theory of Mind (ToM) which shares similar neural functions with allocentric perception (Wynn and Coolidge, 2016). It is possible that this cognitive ability was demonstrated by late Pleitocene hominids through imitation and observation of knapping techniques. Imitation of knapping hand axes reflects the understanding that another hold differing thoughts then own. However, the application of imitation with stone tools more importantly demonstrates the evolution of learning and teaching in humans.

Ultimately, the complexity of knapping techniques overtime may have led hominins to emphasize observational learning and semantic labelling methods. Language and visual perception development seem to be linked to pragmatic process of adapting and instructing complex stone knapping techniques. Unlike humans, apes do not show focused observation when training to knap (Wynn and Coolidge, 2016). This suggests that tools that humans acquired for survival may have demanded higher executive functions of attention and spatial cognition. In order to attain incoming perceptual information, hominins depended on physical practice and cues to master technical skills and process motor routines into long-term memory (Wynn and Coolidge, 2016). As a result, mastery knowledge of toolmaking elicited working-memory and attentional mechanisms of human spatial cognition.

Indeed, humans possess a unique form of verbal communication through semantics. It is likely that verbal capabilities in hominins followed retrieval of knapping procedures that expanded cognitive functions (Wynn and Coolidge, 2016). Phonetical and lexicological constructions of language are likely rooted to attempts to teach others how to master stone tools. Certainly, the progression of prehistoric stone techniques seems to represent the initial distinct human qualities of language and cognitive development.

According to Bar-Yosef (2017), the Paleolithic age represented the discovery of language and social landscapes. It was 0.5 mya that Homo sapiens evolution showed linguistic capablilities that distinguished them from Homicide erectus (Bar-Yousef, 2017). This is linked to the influence Auchelian handaxes produced on working memory and its transgenerational effect on youths. Ultimately, language functioned as a moderator to correct and sufficiently communicate information across group members (Bar-Yousef, 2017). Meanwhile, social landscapes played an important role in facilitating routines, stone tool learning, social connections and group strategizing.

Ultimately, the cognitive significance of tools can be seen to overtime evolve as a social cue for humans. It’s transparency to enact as a cognitive mechanism for task performance may have produced a social consciousness and emotional display rules. For instance, tool usage can reinforce members to act collectively and facilitate enhanced performance in group presence. Likewise, an individual’s competence and status may be defined from their ownership or ability to master tools leading to culturally construed social roles based on group values (Jeffares, 2010). This may have led tools to function as emotional display rules by members consensually establishing certain expressions of fear or content to signify group compliance in specified circumstances of threat or safety. As a result, the progression of tool usage likely promoted complex, yet unique culturally defined rules unique to signal survival and group cohesion.  Ultimately, these social cues associated with tool usage show to attach a cultural meaning and perhaps enhance working memory and mental mechanisms based on increased conditional learning of complex social situations.

Admittedly, materiality may represent a coping mechanism to basic emotions with expression of certain behaviors in early human society (Lutz and White, xxx). The material culture’s association with emotions can be seen to express competence and class in group members based on their level of functioning with their tools. This is evident even in present day, as the human ability to sufficiently utilize technological tools reflects their stability and plausible success to adapt to professional environments. However, improper or lack of usage of technological devices can rooted emotion dysregulated mechanisms related to a psychological disorder. In this case, empathetic remarks by society ensures proper treatments promote individual, social, and occupational functioning. Lutz and White (xxx) describes the notion that culturally ascribed deviant emotions are usually suppressed by individuals in exchange to attain group and material interest. This can be seen in social structures and cultural systems utilizing material forces to control individual emotional deviance and reinforce group interest behavior. For instance, the systematically established emotional aspect of kinship in humans can be seen to show material motivation.

The influence of stone tools in the lower Palaolithic era has shown implicate the development of hierarchy and social demands for knapping skills (Bar-Yousef, 2017).  Social identity seemed to emerge based on crafting abilities and contribution to the group. This may indicate the formation of social rules and norms as to stone tool making abilities were mandatory since it was crucial for hunting and survival. Certainly, empathic kinship in human behavior seems to relate to the bestowed value and virtue towards approaching materialistic activities. This may have evolved the cultural transmission of empathy in caregiving from imitation of kinship norms. Compared to chimpanzees, hominins appear to depict greater parental investment that promoted learning in band group settings (Bar-Yousef, 2017). It is plausible that the survival advantages of familial structures may have influenced the evolution of familial and banding.