Cognitive Evolution : From Single Cells to the Human Mind book cover
2nd Edition

Cognitive Evolution
From Single Cells to the Human Mind

ISBN 9780367679552
Published July 27, 2022 by Routledge
396 Pages 21 Color & 107 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Cognitive Evolution provides an in-depth exploration of the natural history of cognition, from the beginning of life on Earth to present-day humans. Drawing together evolutionary, comparative, and neuroscience research, the book brings a unique cognitive perspective to evolutionary psychology.

The second edition features the latest research and illustrations on emerging topics, making it a true update of the field. After introducing evolution, Boles adopts an information processing perspective – from inputs to outputs, with all the mental processes in between to provide a systematic overview of the evolution of cognition, including its sensory, motoric, perceptual, and cognitive components. The combination of evolutionary, comparative, and neuroscience perspectives provides an insight on topics like vision, handedness, tools and planning, spatial perception, pattern recognition, memory, language, and consciousness.

Cognitive Evolution is a comprehensive, essential read for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students of cognitive and evolutionary psychology. Researchers will find it a useful and insightful synthesis of the field, yet even the curious public will find in it much that is surprising and enlightening.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: Life begins

Chapter 2: Life gets complicated

Chapter 3: Vertebrates to early mammals

Chapter 4: Later mammals through primates

Chapter 5: Humans

Chapter 6: The Mechanical and Chemical Senses

Chapter 7: Vision

Chapter 8: The Origins of Motion

Chapter 9: Bipedalism

Chapter 10: Praxis and Handedness

Chapter 11: Tools and Planning

Chapter 12: Spatial Perception

Chapter 13: Pattern Recognition

Chapter 14: Memory

Chapter 15: Language

Chapter 16: Consciousness

Chapter 17: A Summary in Nine Firsts



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David B. Boles is a Cognitive Psychologist who has published widely on brain lateralization and mental resources. He began reading extensively on comparative and artifact evidence of cognition as a graduate student, leading to inclusion of evolutionary psychology content in his subsequent courses. In 2001 he began teaching Comparative and Evolutionary Approaches to Cognition, a course that transitioned into Cognitive Evolution a few years later.


‘When Cognitive Evolution first appeared, it immediately became a foundational text for all cognitive neuroscience researchers. There remains nothing else like it in its scope as it describes the evolution of the neural systems relevant to cognition from single organisms to modern humans. The second edition of Cognitive Evolution is an essential read for anyone who wants to be current in their understanding of cognitive evolution.’ – Arnold L. Glass, Professor of Psychology, Rutgers University, USA

‘Rich in detail, engagingly written and nicely illustrated, the book is an excellent resource for upper-level undergraduates and graduate students in the cognitive sciences. It serves as a reminder of how even simple cognitive tasks depend on a brain architecture and circuitry of immense complexity with deep evolutionary roots.’ – Dr Thurston C. Lacalli, Biology Department, University of Victoria, Canada