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6 June 2017
Changes in prehstoric tool production linked to 'musical' ties

The University of East Anglia has recently carried relating to stone tool production and found that the evolution of this production type activates the same receptors in the brain as when playing the piano.
     This research was done with the help of 31 participants who were tasked with producing both Oldowan and Acheulian tools, with the former being more 'simple' than the latter. The participants were then tasked with reconstructing tools from the different tradition. While all 31 participants learned through videos, only 15 learned with verbal communication.
     The researchers found that while the production of Oldowan tools required only co-ordination of visual attention and motor control networks the production of Acheulian tools required much more attention. The production of these tools required integrating the visual attention, motor control networks, as well as auditory information, much as one would need for modern piano playing.
     Lead author Dr Shelby Putt, from the Stone Age Institute, said: "This work offers novel insights into prehistoric cognition using a cutting-edge neuroimaging technique that allows people to engage in complex actions while we are measuring localized brain activity.
     The research also found that the networks required for specialized language in modern humans were only activated for the Acheulian tool production. As the assumption is that such language was not available 1.75 million years ago, it has been suggested that Acheulian tool production did not rely on the evolution of language centres.
     Co-author Prof John Spencer from the University of East Anglia said: "Our findings do not neatly overlap with prior claims that language and stone tool production co-evolved. There is more support for the idea that working memory and auditory-visual integration networks laid the foundation for advances in stone tool-making.

Edited from popular-Archaeology 08 May 2017

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