The evolution of cultural gadgets

Daniel Dor, Simona Ginsburg, Eva Jablonka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Heyes argues that human metacognitive strategies (“cognitive gadgets” or “mills”) are the products of cultural evolution based on domain-general cognition with few simple biases. Although like Heyes, we believe that the evolution of domain-general cognitive processes played a crucial role in the evolution of human cognition, we argue that Heyes' distinction between mills and grist is too sharp, that associative learning evolved gradually to become more complex and hierarchical, something that is not captured by the system 1/system 2 distinction, and that human cognitive plasticity required the genetic accommodation of gadget-specific processes that led to more plasticity-enhancing human-specific biases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-529
Number of pages12
JournalMind and Language
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • cultural evolution
  • evolution of learning
  • genetic accommodation


Dive into the research topics of 'The evolution of cultural gadgets'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this