Cognitive Innovation, Cumulative Cultural Evolution, and Enculturation

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
Regina E. Fabry Justus Liebig University of Giessen, Department of Psychology, Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Science

Search for other papers by Regina E. Fabry in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



Cognitive innovation has shaped and transformed our cognitive capacities throughout history. Until recently, cognitive innovation has not received much attention by empirical and conceptual research in the cognitive sciences. This paper is a first attempt to help close this gap. It will be argued that cognitive innovation is best understood in connection with cumulative cultural evolution and enculturation. Cumulative cultural evolution plays a vital role for the inter-generational transmission of the products of cognitive innovation. Furthermore, there are at least two important functions of enculturation for cognitive innovation. First, enculturation is responsible for the ontogenetic acquisition of cognitive practices governing the interaction with innovative products. Second, successful processes of enculturation provide opportunities for subsequent innovative processes. The trans-generational trajectory of calculation from mathematical symbol systems to the first digital computers will serve as a paradigm example of the delicate interplay of cognitive innovation, cumulative cultural evolution, and enculturation.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 591 157 5
Full Text Views 448 26 4
PDF Views & Downloads 196 20 0