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Motor constraints influence cultural evolution of rhythm

Abstract : While widely acknowledged in the cultural evolution literature, ecological factors—aspects of the physical environment that affect the way in which cultural productions evolve—have not been investigated experimentally. Here, we present an experimental investigation of this type of factor by using a transmission chain (iterated learning) experiment. We predicted that differences in the distance between identical tools (drums) and in the order in which they are to be used would cause the evolution of different rhythms. The evidence confirms our predictions and thus provides a proof of concept that ecological factors—here a motor constraint—can influence cultural productions and that their effects can be experimentally isolated and measured. One noteworthy finding is that ecological factors can on their own lead to more complex rhythms.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, December 22, 2020 - 11:00:49 AM
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Helena Miton, Thomas Wolf, Cordula Vesper, Günther Knoblich, Dan Sperber. Motor constraints influence cultural evolution of rhythm. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Royal Society, The, 2020, 287 (1937), ⟨10.1098/rspb.2020.2001⟩. ⟨ijn_03085983⟩



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