Accepted paper:

Does the world not move to the beat of just one drum? Autism, different minds and the emergence of modern human behaviour


Penny Spikins (University of York)

Paper short abstract:

This paper illustrates the potential significance of the rise of social mechanisms for including those with cognitive differences into palaeolithic societies, using autism as a case study.

Paper long abstract:

The suite of behavioural changes which characterise 'the emergence of modern human behaviour' (160,000-40,000bp) have remained something of an enigma. Here it is argued that social mechanisms allowing the 'incorporation of difference' prompted the rise of structured cognitive variations (such as autism) in populations at this time. These changes are argued to provide an explanation for key 'modern' behaviours such as the emergence of precise standardised technology, symbolic art and personal ornamentation and rapid population expansion.

panel P16
Genes and culture, past and present