Professor Bruce Bradley flint knapping in Campagne, France.

Exeter Archaeologist hits the front page of New Scientist

The research of Professor Bruce Bradley recently featured on the front page of New Scientist magazine. The article, ‘Sharp thinking: How shaping tools built our brains’ explores the way in which the development of stone tools can help us to trace the evolution of the brain from simple ape to thinking human. 

Professor Bruce Bradley is the lead Project Investigator on the Leverhulme Trust–funded project ‘Learning to be Human’. Over the past three years, the project has investigated the history of the mind through combining knowledge of stone-tool construction with neuroscience, psychology and archaeology.

The findings, published in New Scientist magazine, mean that is now possible to estimate the origins of distinctly human mental capabilities. The development of stone tools from a jagged stone, through axes, cleavers and spears to the aesthetically pleasing Leavallois tools enables us to track the evolution of cognitive abilities such as dexterity, motor control, visual imagination, hierarchical thinking and complex communication.

Professor Bruce Bradley comments, “It is very gratifying that such a well-respected magazine as New Scientist would focus a cover story on the results of our Leverhulme Trust funded research into early human brain development.  Equally gratifying is that the project depended upon a significant group of Exeter archaeology students who volunteered and committed a significant amount of time and effort over a two-year period.  This is an excellent example of how students can participate in leading-edge interdisciplinary, international research on a topic of interest to academics, scientists and the public.”

The article is available to read in full on the New Scientist website.

Date: 24 March 2014

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