Creativity, Cognition and Material Culture
  • ISSN 0929-0907
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9943
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This essay explores the nature and neurological basis of creativity in technical production. After presenting a model of expert technical cognition based in cognitive anthropology and cognitive psychology, the authors propose that craft production has three inherent sources of novelty — procedural drift, serendipitous error and fiddling. However, these are quite limited in their creative potential, which may help explain the virtual absence of innovation over the long millennia of the Palaeolithic. Innovation can be far more rapid and effective via invention, which requires folk theories of causation and adequate working memory capacity, all fairly recent evolutionary developments. The neurological basis of expert technical cognition lies in well-known cortical and sub-cortical structures, but recent research has established a provocative role for the cerebellum in the formulation of novel arrangements.


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