PNAS Publication on the Evolution of Cognition

Are humans hard-wired with domain-specific knowledge that allows us to learn language? How could that knowledge have got there? A new paper in Procedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA by AI lab member Bill Thompson and colleagues explores the evolution of cognition in populations of learners who learn from eachother. The paper presents a mathematical analysis of the evolution of rational agents who transmit knowledge of language accross generations: it shows how culture can amplify rapidly-evolved minor cognitive tweaks to have disproportionate population-wide consequences for language, suggesting a new view of the unique learning mechanisms that underpin human language.   

The article is availible open access here:
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/03/30/1523631113.full