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The 44th Gao Juefu Psychological Lecture— “Shaping Intelligence: How Development, Culture, and Technology Transform Human Cognitive Capacities” by Dr. Cristine Legare

On the afternoon of September 21, the 44th Gao Juefu Psychological Lecture was held at the Conference Room 108 of the School of Psychology, Nanjing Normal University. Dr. Cristine Legare, who comes from the University of Texas at Austin, was invited to give a lecture entitled “Shaping Intelligence: How Development, Culture, and Technology Transform Human Cognitive Capacitie”. The lecture was hosted by Prof. Liu Guixiong, and attracted a large audience including some faculty and PhD and master students from our School of Psychology.

To start the lecture, Prof. Liu Guoxiong introduced Dr. Cristine Legare to the audience. Dr. Legare is an associate professor of psychology and the director of the Evolution, Variation, and Ontogeny of Learning Laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research examines how the human mind enables us to learn, create, and transmit culture. She conducts comparisons across age, culture, and species to address fundamental questions about cognitive and cultural evolution, and has been widely published in a number of high-impact journals, including Psychological Science, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Child Development, Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Cognition, and Evolution and Human Behavior

In the lecture, Dr. Legare first introduced that the unique of our human beings are not because of the use of tool but cultural accumulation. She suggested that the complexity and variability of human culture is unmatched by any other species. Humans live in culturally constructed niches filled with artifacts, skills, beliefs, and practices that have been inherited, accumulated, and modified over generations. A causal account of the complexity of human culture must explain its distinguishing characteristics: It is cumulative and highly variable within and across populations. She then proposed that the psychological adaptations supporting cumulative cultural transmission are universal but are sufficiently flexible to support the acquisition of highly variable behavioral repertoires.

In the last Question & Answer session, Dr. Legare answered the students’ questions patiently and helpfully. The lecture was ended in applause.