Gene-Culture Co-evolution

Here’s a good recent article on the subject.

Laland, Odling-Smee, Myles, 2010. How culture shaped the human genome: bringing genetics and the human sciences together

Abstract | Researchers from diverse backgrounds are converging on the view that human evolution has been shaped by gene–culture interactions. Theoretical biologists have used population genetic models to demonstrate that cultural processes can have a profound effect on human evolution, and anthropologists are investigating cultural practices that modify current selection. These findings are supported by recent analyses of human genetic variation, which reveal that hundreds of genes have been subject to recent positive selection, often in response to human activities. Here, we collate these data, highlighting the considerable potential for cross-disciplinary exchange to provide novel insights into how culture has shaped the human genome.


Stearns, Byars, Govindaraju, and Ewbank, 2010. Measuring selection in contemporary human populations.

Abstract | Are humans currently evolving? This question can be answered using data
on lifetime reproductive success, multiple traits and genetic variation and covariation in those traits. Such data are available in existing long-term, multigeneration studies — both clinical and epidemiological — but they have not yet been widely used to address contemporary human evolution. Here we review methods to predict evolutionary change and attempts to measure selection and inheritance in humans. We also assemble examples of long-term studies in which additional measurements of evolution could be made. The evidence strongly suggests that we are evolving and that our nature is dynamic, not static.

Kitayama and Tompson, 2010. Envisioning the future of cultural neuroscience

Abstract: In the present commentary, we first examine the three target articles included in the Asian Journal of Social Psychology special issue on cultural neuroscience. We spell out the contributions that the articles have offered to the field. We extend this examination with our own theoretical model of neuro-culture interaction, which proposes that brain connectivity changes as a function of each person’s active, repeated engagement in culture’s scripted behavioural patterns (i.e. practices). We then locate the current endeavour of cultural neuroscience within a broader framework, detailing empirical, theoretical, and meta-theoretical reasons why the approach of cultural neuroscience is important to both socio-behavioural and biological sciences. It is concluded that the scholarship demonstrated in the target articles will be an important collective asset for all of us who aspire to understand the human mind as fundamentally biocultural and to study it as such.

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