“Did Working Memory Spark Creative Culture?”

Posted: April 20, 2010

An article published in Science on April 9th, 2010 discusses the possibility that the evolution of working memory helped spark creativity in early human species. Researchers Thomas Wynn and Frederick Coolidge point to the creation of unique artwork as evidence of the development of a cognitive function unique to our species – that is, as the article says “an enhanced capacity to hold and manipulate information in one’s conscious attention while carrying out specific tasks, an ability psychologist’s call working memory”.

The article suggest that the final steps in the development of working memory was not only a breakthrough for artistic expression, but it also helped hominids to communicate, make plans for the future, and create more complex tools.

There are some who discount this theory stating that the working memory was static for long periods of time in our development so therefore did not account for a major shift in human evolution.

Click here to read the summary of the article.