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Seeing the FutureTheoretical Perspectives on Future-Oriented Mental Time Travel$
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Kourken Michaelian, Stanley B. Klein, and Karl K. Szpunar

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190241537

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190241537.001.0001

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Evolutionary Perspectives on Prospective Cognition

Evolutionary Perspectives on Prospective Cognition

(p.287) 14 Evolutionary Perspectives on Prospective Cognition
Seeing the Future

James M. Thom

Nicola S. Clayton

Oxford University Press

The evolutionary history of prospective mental time travel is difficult to discern, the behavior of human ancestors being inferable only from limited material remnants. Comparative research with extant species is a powerful investigative tool for shedding light on how natural selection shapes cognition. This chapter gives an overview of comparative research into prospective mental time travel, focusing on the question of human uniqueness, which is necessarily the first question in applying insight from other species to the evolutionary origins of human prospective cognition. The reigning orthodoxy is of caution against anthropomorphism, and attempts to challenge notions of human uniqueness have attended primarily to anticipation of future needs as a criterion for identifying prospective mental time travel. This approach has yielded some successes in primates and corvids, but none without caveat. The authors argue instead for investigation of individual phenomena associated with human mental time travel, such as scene construction.

Keywords:   cognition, evolution, mental time travel, corvids, primates

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