gene-culture coevolution; individual and social learning; cooperation; human evolution; cultural-transmission; cumulative culture
Gonzalez-Forero M., Faulwasser T., Lehmann L. (2017), A model for brain life history evolution, in Plos Computational Biology
Powers S., Lehmann L. (2017), When is bigger better? The effects of group size on the evolution of helping behaviours, in Biological Reviews
Dridi S., Lehmann L. (2016), Environmental complexity favors the evolution of learning, in Behavioral Ecology
Powers S., van Schaik C. P., Lehmann L. (2016), How institutions shaped the last major evolutionary transition to large-scale human societies, in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B
Dridi S., Lehmann L. (2015), A model for the evolution of reinforcement learning in uctuating games, in Animal Behavior
, 104, 1-28.
Lehmann L., Alger I., Weibull (2015), Does evolution lead to maximizing behavior?, in Evolution
Powers Simon, Lehmann Laurent (2014), An evolutionary model explaining the Neolithic transition from egalitarianism to leadership and despotism, in Proceedings of the Royal Society B
Wakano J., Lehmann L. (2014), Evolutionary branching in deme-structured populations, in Journal of Theoretical Biology
Lehmann L. (2014), Stochastic demography and the neutral substitution rate in class-structured populations, in Genetics
Mullon Charles, Lehmann Laurent (2014), The robustness of the weak selection approximation for the evolution of altruism against strong selection, in Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Culture stores knowledge, beliefs, and practices. This allows one individual to amalgamate the experience of others and thereby to express behaviors and use artifacts that would be impossible to acquire in isolation. The constructive nature of cultural evolution is well captured by the saying attributed to I. Newton: ``If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants''. This sentence summarizes the ratchet effect of cumulative cultural evolution. This is the process whereby the individuals in a population absorb through social learning (e.g., copying, imitation) information generated in past generations and add new information into the extant culture by individual learning (e.g., trial-error learning, insight, deduction). Despite cumulative cultural evolution being a key factor underlying the ecological success of the human lineage, its dynamics and evolution are understudied in evolutionary biology; in particular how cumulative culture and life history co-evolve. Indeed, there are no clear answers nor predictions concerning the following very natural questions. Under which conditions is a learning schedule supportive of cumulative culture favored by natural selection? Does such a schedule improve the survival and fecundity of an average individual in the population? How does allocation of resource to learning trade-off with survival and/or growth? Is childhood a life history stage selected for to absorb the extant culture?These general questions immediately point to other, more fine grained questions. In particular, in order to understand the development of behavior during an individual's lifespan by learning, one needs to study the evolution of the mechanisms producing the behavior. In other words, one needs to understand the selection pressure on the learning rules producing the behavior, not the behavior they produce. Here, there are also many unknowns. Are domain specific hardwired behaviors or general purpose learning mechanisms selected for? Should an individual rely on social or individual learning? When does selection favor individuals to construct beliefs over the behaviors of others? After a gap of nearly two decades, the study of both cumulative cultural evolution and evolution of learning mechanisms has recently been reignited thanks to the importance of the topic and to new analytical tools allowing to address these long-standing questions.This research proposal builds on my SNSF professorship grant, and proposes to study specific aspects of the questions delineated above. To this end, we will construct mathematical and simulations models into two distinct but complementary directions, and which can be thought of as a macroscopic and a microscopic approach to the evolution of learning. First, in order to improve our understanding of the conditions leading to the emergence of cumulative cultural evolution (macroscopic dynamics), we will integrate recent theory on cultural evolution with life history theory, and study the co-evolution of cumulative culture and life history schedule by way of optimal control theory. Second, in order to improve our understanding of the evolution of learning mechanisms (microscopic dynamics), we will use recent theory developed in game theory to study human learning in games (so-called stochastic approximation theory), with evolutionary models and study the evolution of reinforcement and belief-based learning in conditions of fluctuating social interactions.Following the spirit of my SNSF professorship grant, the different parts of this extension are an attempt at providing a more unified and complete approach to understand the evolution and expression of social behaviors by involving gene-culture co-evolution. This will further be embedded here into a more explicit life history context so as to pave the way for a life history theory for human evolution.