The Origin of Mind: Evolution of Brain, Cognition, and General Intelligence

Pages: 459
Item #: 4318015
ISBN: 978-1-59147-181-3
List Price: $19.95
Member/Affiliate Price: $19.95
Copyright: 2005
Format: Hardcover
Availability: In Stock
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Darwin considered an understanding of the evolution of the human mind and brain to be of major importance to the evolutionary sciences. This ground-breaking book sets out a comprehensive, integrated theory of why and how the human mind has developed to function as it does. Geary proposes that human motivational, affective, behavioral, and cognitive systems have evolved to process social and ecological information (e.g., facial expressions) that covaried with survival or reproductive options during human evolution.

Further, he argues that the ultimate focus of all of these systems is to support our attempts to gain access to and control of resources—more specifically, the social (e.g., mates), biological (e.g., food), and physical (e.g., territory) resources that supported successful survival and reproduction over time. In this view, Darwin's conceptualization of natural selection as a "struggle for existence" becomes, for us, a struggle with other human beings for control of the available resources.

This struggle provides a means of integrating modular brain and cognitive systems such as language with those brain and cognitive systems that support general intelligence. To support his arguments, Geary draws upon an impressive array of recent findings in cognitive science and neuroscience, as well as primatology, anthropology, and sociology.

The book also explores a number of issues that are of interest in modern society, including how general intelligence relates to academic achievement, occupational status, and income. Readers will find this book a thought-provoking read and an impetus for new theories of mind.

Table of Contents

List of Figures


  1. Introduction and Overview
  2. Natural and Sexual Selection
  3. Hominid Evolution and the Motivation to Control
  4. Evolution and Development of Brain and Cognition
  5. Modular Domains of the Human Mind
  6. Heuristics and Controlled Problem Solving
  7. Evolution of Control-Related Mental Models
  8. Evolution of General Intelligence
  9. General Intelligence in Modern Society



Author Index

Subject Index

About the Author

Author Bio

David C. Geary received his Ph.D. in developmental psychology in 1986 from the University of California at Riverside and from there held faculty positions at the University of Texas at El Paso and the University of Missouri, first at the Rolla campus and then in Columbia. Dr. Geary is Department Chair and Professor of Psychological Sciences, and from 2000 to 2003 was the University of Missouri's Middlebush Professor of Psychological Sciences.

He has published more than 110 articles and chapters across a wide range of topics, including cognitive and developmental psychology, education, evolutionary biology, and medicine. His first two books, Children's mathematical development (1994) and Male, female: The evolution of human sex differences (1998), were also published by the American Psychological Association.

He has given invited addresses in a variety of departments (anthropology, biology, behavior genetics, computer science, education, government, mathematics, neuroscience, physics, and psychology) and Universities throughout the United States, as well as in Belgium, Canada, Germany, and Italy. In addition to these activities, he was one of the primary contributors to the Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools: Kindergarten through grade twelve. Among many distinctions is the Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (1996).

Reviews & Awards

This book is extraordinarily well-organized, and the prose is clear and readable. Highly recommended.
—CHOICE Magazine

A coherent and satisfying framework for the sciences of mind…invaluable both as a reference work and as a road map for the sprawling territory covered by modern psychology and neighboring sciences.
—Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, author of How the Mind Works and The Blank Slate