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"Working Memory" is the Latest Volume from the Wenner-Gren Symposium Series

Current Anthropology Supplement Cover for Working MemoryThe Wenner-Gren Symposium Series is now being published through Current Anthropology. The series had been with Berg Publishers (Oxford) since 2002. The current venture permits specific articles from the symposia to be widely available through the internet and ensures that symposia content and discussions can reach a worldwide audience. The first issue Working Memory: Beyond Language and Symbolism (Eds.) Thomas Wynn and Frederick L. Coolidge, was mailed out alongside the June 2010 issue of Current Anthropology. The volume is the outcome of the Wenner-Gren Symposia on Working Memory held at Fortaleza do Guincho, Cascais, Portugal from March 7–14, 2008.  (The Introduction to this volume written by the President of the Foundation, Leslie Aiello, can be downloaded here).

Next in the Symposium Series will be Engaged Anthropology: Dilemmas and Diversity. (Eds.) Setha Low and Sally Engle Merry, to be published in October 2010.

Working Memory: Beyond Language and Symbolism

Guest Edited by Thomas Wynn and Frederick L. Coolidge
Volume 51, Supplement 1, June 2010

Working Memory: Beyond Language and Symbolism examines the role of working memory in human evolution and, more specifically, the hypothesis that a late enhancement of working memory capacity powered the evolution of the modern mind.. Working Memory is psychologist Alan Baddeley’s model of the cognitive processes that support higher level planning abilities, also known as executive functions.  Working memory itself is the ability to hold information in active attention and process it even in the face of distracting stimuli.  Almost forty years of psychological research have established working memory as perhaps the most well-researched and influential model of a component of human cognition, but its role in human evolution has only recently become a focus of attention.    Chapters in the volume address the nature of working memory itself, alternative models of higher level thinking, methodological issues in recognizing working memory in the paleoanthropological record, and initial attempts at documenting an evolutionary sequence.  The chapters in this Supplementary Issue make a strong case for the importance of Working Memory in the evolution of human cognition, although the volume reaches no general agreement on the timing of  its final enhancement.


Leslie C. Aiello  The Wenner-Gren Symposium Series: An Introduction by the President
Leslie C. Aiello Working Memory and the Evolution of Modern Thinking: Wenner-Gren Symposium Supplement
Thomas Wynn and Frederick L. Coolidge Beyond Symbolism and Language: An Introduction to Supplement 1, Working Memory
Randall W. Engle Role of Working-Memory Capacity in Cognitive Control
C. Philip Beaman Working Memory and Working Attention: What Could Possibly Evolve?
Philip J. Barnard From Executive Mechanisms Underlying Perception and Action to the Parallel Processing of Meaning
Francisco Aboitiz, Sebastia´n Aboitiz, and Ricardo R. Garcı´a The Phonological Loop: A Key Innovation in Human Evolution
Manuel Martı´n-Loeches Uses and Abuses of the Enhanced-Working-Memory Hypothesis in Explaining Modern Thinking
Emiliano Bruner Morphological Differences in the Parietal Lobes within the Human  Genus: A Neurofunctional Perspective
Matt J. Rossano Making Friends, Making Tools, and Making Symbols
Eric Reuland Imagination, Planning, and Working Memory: The  Emergence of Language
Lyn Wadley Compound-Adhesive Manufacture as a Behavioral Proxy for Complex Cognition in the Middle Stone Age
April Nowell Working Memory and the Speed of Life
Stanley H. Ambrose Coevolution of Composite-Tool Technology, Constructive Memory, and Language: Implications for the Evolution of Modern Human Behavior
Miriam Noe¨l Haidle Working-Memory Capacity and the Evolution of Modern Cognitive Potential: Implications from Animal and Early Human Tool Use
Anna Belfer-Cohen and Erella Hovers Modernity, Enhanced Working Memory, and the Middle to Upper Paleolithic Record in the Levant
Iain Davidson The Colonization of Australia and Its Adjacent Islands and the Evolution of Modern Cognition
Rex Welshon Working Memory, Neuroanatomy, and Archaeology

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