LEC Talk 12th May: Nicolas Fay

By Kevin | May 6, 2015

Tuesday 12th May, 11:05-12:30, DSB 1.17

Nicolas Fay (The University of Western Australia)

Cognitive Biases Plus Social Interaction Drives the Adaptive Evolution
of Human Communication Systems.

Researchers have tended to focus either on the cognitive biases or the
social interactional processes that drive language evolution. Rarely
have these top-down and bottom-up approaches been combined. In this
talk I’ll present evidence that cognitive biases plus social
interactional processes drive the evolution of functionally adaptive
human communication systems. I’ll argue that a conservative
Egocentric-bias preserves sign variation by inhibiting the adoption of
signs produced by others during social interaction. An opportunistic
Content-bias encourages sign adoption on the basis of the intrinsic
qualities of the signs produced by others; if the sign encountered is
superior to previously used signs it is adopted. Together, an
Egocentric-bias, a Content-bias plus Social Interaction maximises the
chance that a population will converge on an optimal set of signs.