The evolution of social learning mechanisms and cultural phenomena in group foragers
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Background: Advanced cognitive abilities are widely thought to underpin cultural traditions and cumulative cultural change. In contrast, recent simulation models have found that basic social influences on learning suffice to support both cultural phenomena. In the present study we test the predictions of these models in the context of skill learning, in a model with stochastic demographics, variable group sizes, and evolved parameter values, exploring the cultural ramifications of three different social learning mechanisms. Results: Our results show that that simple forms of social learning such as local enhancement, can generate traditional differences in the context of skill learning. In contrast, we find cumulative cultural change is supported by observational learning, but not local or stimulus enhancement, which supports the idea that advanced cognitive abilities are important for generating this cultural phenomenon in the context of skill learning. Conclusions: Our results help to explain the observation that animal cultures are widespread, but cumulative cultural change might be rare.
van der Post , D J , Franz , M & Laland , K N 2017 , ' The evolution of social learning mechanisms and cultural phenomena in group foragers ' BMC Evolutionary Biology , vol 17 , 49 . DOI: 10.1186/s12862-017-0889-z
BMC Evolutionary Biology
© The Author(s). 2017 Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
This research was supported by a grant from The John Templeton Foundation.
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