The eSYMb project aims to establish a novel integrative framework for the investigation of early symbolic evolution, using records from archaeology in behavioural experimental investigations and computational modelling. Starting from the assumption that symbolic artefacts evolve adaptively over time to better fulfil their intended symbolic functions, the project investigates structural changes to symbolic artefacts and their cognitive implications to inform inferences about their past use. The project will thus establish transparent, data-driven methods and criteria to test concrete hypotheses about early human symbolic behaviour from archaeological sites across the world, focussing on the later part of human evolution (~150.000–12.000 years ago) based on measures critical to symbolic cognition and behaviour. Read more about the project here.
We are currently hiring a new postdoctoral researcher in cognitive science. The successful applicant has a background in cognitive science, computational modelling, cultural evolution studies, computer science, digital humanities, computer vision or a related field. Your main task will be – in collaborations with the principal investigator (PI) and other members of the team – to build computational models (for example, neural networks of visual processing and/or agent-based simulations of social/cultural transmission) of the evolution of symbolic cognition based on cross-sectional and experimental data. The modelling will complement ongoing experimental work on human participants and primates, as well as archaeological fieldwork on cave art and theoretical work on human cognitive evolution. Read more about the position here.