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1. Reconstructing the Learning Behaviors Through the Analysis of Lithic Refitted Materials of the Upper Paleolithic Assemblages in Hokkaido
Team Leader:
Jun Takakura, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Letters, Hokkaido University
Collaborators: Hiroyuki Suzuki, Hokkaido Archaeological Operations Center Yasuo Naoe, Hokkaido Archaeological Operations Center Research Objectives: It is possible to understand the past learning behaviors based on the identification of technical levels and their spatial distributions. This project of research attempts to characterize the learning behavior of the Upper Paleolithic in Hokkaido through the analysis of abundant lithic refitted materials obtained from selected sites, especially the Shirataki sites, eastern Hokkaido. In addition, existing research results, particularly criteria for the identification of technical levels and the models of learning processes, will be reexamined.

Research Methods: This research consists of following plans:
(1) A broad comprehensive review and evaluation of many studies concerning the lithic refitted materials as well as the past learning behaviors discussed in Japan and Western countries.
(2) A comparative analysis of the lithic refitted materials obtained from the Shirataki sites to understand the technical levels of past lithic manufacturing behaviors and their spatial distributions in the sites.
(3) A theoretical and methodological study on criteria for the identification of technical levels as well as the past learning processes based on the analysis of lithic refitted materials obtained from the Shirataki sites.

2. Biomechanics of Hunting-Spear Throwing in Modern Humans
Team Leader:
Yasuo Higurashi, Assistant Professor,
Anthropology, Laboratory of Biological Anthropology, Osaka University

Research Objectives:
Modern humans live in a more broad range of habitats than any other primates do. Human adaptability to different environments is at least partly due to the cognitive function developed in human evolution, and learned behavior became an important means of coping with environmental demands. Ancient tools made of materials such as stone and wood provide a basis on which to estimate the cognitive function and motor learning in fossil hominids. The earliest throwing spears so far known were dated to about 400,000 years ago, suggesting that hominids before Neanderthals already engaged in hunting with a spear. I will conduct a research project on biomechanics of hunting-spear throwing in modern humans from the fiscal years 2011?2012. The goals of this project are twofold: (1) to estimate the cognitive function and motor learning in hominids since 400,000 years ago, and (2) to examine human skeletal morphology and throwing mechanics.

Research Methods:
I will study kinematics of throwing in ordinary modern Japanese. Participants will be asked to throw two types of objects, the spear and stone. Spears used in the experiments will be made based on the material, size, and weight of ancient tools. I will search the literature on in what contexts fossil hominids threw and modern hunter-gatherers throw objects. Movements of body parts during throwing will be evaluated by video analysis. The activity of various muscles will be recorded using surface electromyography. The force exerted during throwing will be measured or calculated if possible.

3. Fitness and Health of Hunter-Gatherer Children from the Viewpoint of Playing Activity and Diet
Team Leader:
Taro Yamauchi, PhD. Associate Professor, Graduate School of Health Sciences,
Hokkaido University. Human Ecology. Health and Adaptation of Children.

Izumi Hagino, Graduate Student. Graduate School of Health Sciences, Hokkaido University. Human Ecology. Growth and Nutrition of Children.

Research Objectives:
We conduct a field research in biological anthropology/health sciences to complement cultural-anthropological participant observation and developmental psychology experiments performed by team A02. This study aims to contribute to the learning hypothesis by quantitative evaluation of the physique and fitness of hunter-gatherer children.

In FY2011, we will carry out an intensive research on the African hunter-gatherer population in whom we have conducted field surveys continuously since 1996. We will conduct the same survey in other hunter-gatherer populations such as the Aborigines and the Inuit in FY2012 and compare the findings from each population.

Research Methods:
The field surveys consist of 4 topics: physique, playing activities, diet, and fitness.
1. Physique of hunter-gatherer children ・Assess the nutritional status and growth conditions of the children by anthropometry.
・Biological determination of the duration of childhood by analyzing growth curves.

2. Playing activities of hunter-gatherer children
・Consider children’s play as a physical activity and evaluate the daily energy expenditure and the step counts of children by the acceleration monitoring method.
・Estimate the daily time-space allocation of children by direct observation and by using the global positioning system (GPS).
3. Diet of hunter-gatherer children

・Weigh all the food consumed to estimate the food consumption of children.
・Estimate the daily energy and nutrition intakes of children by using regional food composition tables.

4. Fitness of hunter-gatherer children
・Develop and conduct a physical fitness test battery suitable for hunter-gatherer children on the basis of the existing fitness test batteries used in Japan, Asia, and Europe.
・Examine the change or improvement in the test scores with increasing age and growth/development.
・Evaluate the expended energy in playing activities and the change of energy efficiency per unit time with increasing age and growth/development.

4. Unusual Ancient Haplotypes in Modern Human Probe for Archaic Hominin Admixture
Team Leader:
Makoto K. Shimada, Institute for Comprehensive Medical Science, Fujita Health University Research Objectives: To investigate detail of archaic homin admixture and difference in biological function between archaic and modern humans, through integration of various kinds of biological information.

Research Methods:
I will integrate publicly available data on Neanderthal genome, genome polymorphism of modern human populations, and other biological information associated with genome sequences as follows:
(1) Reconstruction of biological function on haplotypes originated from archaic humans, which found in modern human populations:
Our previous study showed that an unusually old and rare haplotype was found from various modern human populations in the world (Shimada et al. 2007). Such kind of ancient haplotypes were found also through investigation on the Neanderthal genome (Green et al. 2010). We will search biological features that is known to associated with specific DNA sequences, and integrate them by connecting on the ancient haplotypes. This will provide evaluation concering differences in biological function between ancient and modern humans.

(2) Analysis on genomic region of Neanderthal related to gene expression:
It has been argued that characteristic evolution to modern human lineage after divergence from that of chimpanzee is not attribute to genomic changes, but to changes on gene expression. To investigate gene expression of Neanderthal, we will extract comprehensively mRNA splicing site from Neanderthal genome sequences. Then we will compare them with those of modern humans and chimpanzees, which is expected to reveal features of gene expression of human evolution.

(3) Exploration of novel ancient haplotypes in modern human populations using genome polymorphism:
Currently, databases on polymorphism in human genome has grown and method of haplotype detection has sophisticated. Because it is considered that there have been long-term isolated populations within Africa at the time of “Out of Africa”, we can expect several events of admixture with ancient people. To know exactly these admixture events, we will explore novel ancient haplotypes in modern humans by searching comprehensively for unusually long branches in molecular phylogenetic trees of the haplotypes. Consequently, population genetics of HapSTR that is combination of haplotype and Short tandem repeat (STR) will reveal detail of admixture events.

5. Identifying Learning Ability Specific to Homo sapiens
Team Leader:
Nobuyuki Takahashi, Associate Professor, Psychology, Social Psychology Laboratory, Graduate School of Letters, Hokkaido University

Research Objectives:
The research project entitled “Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans: Testing Evolutionary Models of Learning” investigates why Homo sapiens became the only Hominid on Earth and expanded their living areas to virtually everywhere on Earth. The project proposes a working hypothesis arguing that such replacement can be attributable to the innate differences in learning abilities between the two hominid species. It is argued that Homo sapiens had an advantage over Neanderthals because they not only have a higher level of social learning ability (learning from others by imitation) but also a higher level of individual learning ability (learning by trial-and-error), while Neanderthals had a lower level of individual learning ability although they also maintain a high level of social learning ability. This argument has fundamental problems, however. First, from the psychological viewpoint, learning by trial-and-error is fundamental to many other species, and what corresponds to the ‘advanced’ ability that only a few species have is social learning. Second, learning by trial-and-error cannot explain why Homo sapiens have expanded their living areas so quickly where no Neanderthals have gone before. Therefore, the current study postulates that Homo sapiens have a third type of learning ability, which we called ‘inventive ability,’ the ability of active learning that allows the species to invent a new adaptive behavior quickly in a new environment. It is hypothesized that Homo sapiens had an advantage over Neanderthals basically because of their higher level of inventive ability. However, currently how to measure such inventive ability is not established even in psychology. The main purpose of the current study is to establish the measurement method of this ability by conducting psychological experiments in a laboratory. Then, investigating the relationships among inventive creativity, learning by trial-and-error, and learning from others by imitation will become the next goal. <

Research Methods:
The current study uses laboratory experiments as the main research method. First, we will develop a task to measure inventive ability that only Homo sapiens are supposed to have. So far, how to measure such ability has not been established in psychology of learning. In most of the cases, researchers in psychology of learning have used animals such as birds or rats to study learning. However, what they have measured is the ability to learn by trial-and-error, but not inventive learning. The current study will measure human participants’ inventive ability by asking them to perform various tasks and then analyze the relationships among performances of multiple tasks. If this approach is successful, then the next step is to investigate the relationship among individual learning (learning by trial-and-error,) inventive ability, and social learning (learning by imitation). Although previous research has focused on whether there is a trade-off between individual learning and social learning, such a debate is off the point in the current study. Rather, we need to examine the relationship between inventive ability and the other two learning abilities based on empirical data. All of the research activities will be conducted by a team of principal investigator and several graduate and undergraduate students. Laboratory experiments of such a large scale need fully equipped facility as well as a large subject pool where we recruit participants. Center for Experimental Research in Social Sciences at Hokkaido University is the only institute in Japan that can provide such extensive supports.

6. Analyses of Contributions of Inter-Group Communication on New Culture Emergence
Team Leader:
Shiro Horiuchi, Postdoctoral Fellow, Sociology, Organization for the Strategic Coordination of Research and Intellectual Property, Meiji University

Research Objectives:
If there are frequent communication between groups that were distant far away, or there is a system that let such communication possible and easy, diversity of local culture should increase. Diversity of local cultures are expected to let humans gain new culture soon. I hypothesize such learning abilities of modern humans based on communication between groups let them gain new techniques of stone cultures continually. They would have thus replaced Neanderthals owing to new stone culture. We test the possibility that communication between local groups promote displacements between Neanderthals and Modern humans through theoretical and experimental researches. <

Research Methods: This research is based on theoretical studies by computer simulation and fieldwork studies on mountainous areas of Japan. At first, I will do theoretical research accompanied qualitative fieldwork study. Then I test the predictions from theoretical researches by the data from quantitative study.

7. Developing Cranial Parameters that Delineate Subdivisions of the Brain
Team Leader:
Yasushi Kobayashi, Professor, Anatomy, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, National Defense Medical College

Research Objectives:
The project aims at developing cranial parameters that delineate subdivisions of the brain by analyzing correlation between cranial and cerebral morphology in extant species including human.

Research Methods:
We analyze the correlation between the cranial parameters and sulcal patterns of the brains using endocasts of calvaria of human cadavers and macaque monkeys, and photographic records of indentations of the orbital plates of the frontal bones. We also analyze cranial parameters using medical radiological images, and determine the correlation between individual variations of cranial and cerebral morphology. Based on these data, we select cranial parameters that can be used to delineate subdivisions of the brain.

8. Investigation of Neural Mechanisms Underlying Linkage Between Imitation and Motivation

Team Leader:
Hiroaki Kawamichi, Assistant Professor, Department of Cerebral Research, National Institute of Physiological Sciences, Cognitive Neuroscience, Neuroimaging of modern human

Research Objectives: Imitation learning, a type of social learning, contributes development of highly modern human society through creativity. In this research, I investigate neural mechanisms underlying motivation of imitation learning for shedding light on creativity of modern human. As motivation of imitation owes mainly to emotional factors, I will formulate brain function map of linkage between emotional imitation behavior, i.e., empathy, and its motivation by experimental approach.

Research Methods: To investigate relationship between empathy and reward, i.e., motivation for imitation, I develop a psychological paradigm. By utilizing the developed paradigm, we measure brain activation by dual functional magnetic resonance imaging (dual-fMRI), which enables us to measure facial expression and brain activation of pair participants simultaneously.

9. The Neural Substrates of Social and Individual Enforced Learning by Intrinsic Rewardsx

Team Leader:
Kei Mizuno, Research Scientist, Molecular Probe Dynamics Laboratory, RIKEN Center for Molecular Imaging Science

Research Objectives: It is very interesting the methods of verification using comparative anatomy for elucidating the difference of learning abilities between modern and ancient human based on the difference in the brain morphology related to learned behaviors between them. The difference of learning abilities is thought to be demonstrated by elucidating the brain regions involved in social and individual learning of the modern human using neuropsychological methods and comparing the differences of brain regions between them based on the reconstruction of fossil of ancient human brain. The study project is focusing on the neural bases of imitative learning in the social learning and of learning control (enforced learning) in the individual learning. In addition, in the individual learning, social rewards such as acceptance and acclaim from significant others are setting as a reinforcement factor for learning, and the verification model of effects of the social rewards on learning are suggesting. In the present study, I set intrinsic rewards such as senses of accomplishment and competence as another reinforcement factor for learning. The aim of the present study is the clarifying the neural bases of intrinsic rewards and neural mechanisms of enforced learning by the intrinsic rewards using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In addition, I hypothesize that the intrinsic rewards contribute enhancement of the imitative learning, and conduct the study for demonstrating this hypothesis.

Research Methods:
(1)Study for the neural substrates of sense of competence
I hypothesize that sense of competence is induced by the perception of higher present performance in comparison with the past performance, and thus conduct an fMRI experiment for clarifying the brain regions involved in the perception of performance feedback. In addition, I measure the satisfaction level for the performance from a questionnaire, and identify the neural substrates of sense of competence using a correlation analysis between the satisfaction level and activation levels in the brain regions related to the perception of performance feedback.

(2)Study for the neural substrates of social and individual enforced learning by intrinsic rewards (senses of accomplishment and competence) By using the fMRI, I investigate the effects of enforced learning by intrinsic rewards on the social and individual learning tasks developed from the study project. Basically, I perform correlation analyses among the level of attainment by evaluation of the task performance, activation levels of the brain regions involved in learning and intrinsic rewards.

Research Project on Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans: Testing Evolutionary Models of Learning
Supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, ports, Science & Technology Japan
Project Office: Kouchi University of Technology,CIC Tokyo 302/ 3-3-6 Shibaura, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Zip:108-0023;
TEL: +81-(0)3-5440-9039 FAX: +81-(0)3-5440-9119 Contact: koutaigeki@gmail.com;
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