Before Farming

The effects of the tree-to-ground sleep transition in the evolution of cognition in early Homo

Before Farming (2006), 2006, (4), 1–18.

Abstract

Just as the study of great apes aids in the understanding of early hominid evolution, so too can contemporary dream research help in the understanding of ancient hominid dream life and cognitive evolution. It has been proffered that a major leap forward in the cognitive evolution of hominoids may first have occurred in the building of nests, and a second major step may have been the full transition to ground sleep. These two changes may have begun a modification of the quality and quantity of hominid sleep, which in turn may have enhanced waking survival skills through priming, promoted creativity and innovation, and aided the consolidation of procedural memories. Current dream research with children, adults, animals and the dreams of modern hunter-gatherers, appears to support the hypothesis that these changes in sleep may have been important to the cognitive evolution of hominids from Homo habilis to Homo erectus.

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Coolidge, Frederick

Wynn, Thomas