Seminar Series

"Exploring gene-culture interactions: insights from case studies".

Genes and culture represent two streams of inheritance that for millions of years have flowed down the generations and interacted. Genetic propensities, expressed throughout development, influence what cultural organisms learn. Culturally transmitted information, expressed in behaviour and artefacts, spreads through populations, modifying selection acting back on populations. Drawing on three case studies, I will illustrate how this gene-culture coevolution has played a critical role in human evolution. These studies explore (i) the evolution of handedness, (ii) sexual selection with a culturally transmitted mating preference, and (iii) cultural niche construction and human evolution. These analyses shed light on how genes and culture shape each other, and on the significance of feedback mechanisms between biological and cultural processes.