Chapter

Metacognition and the Evolution of Language

Herbert S. Terrace

in The Missing Link in Cognition

Published in print February 2005 | ISBN: 9780195161564
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199848386 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195161564.003.0003
Metacognition and the Evolution of Language

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The chapter discusses the animal's capacity for self-reflective consciousness. There are some indications of self-reflective consciousness in some primates other than humans. Animals that have a projectable self can travel mentally in time and also in space. The ability to deceive is thought to require projection in order to mislead. The chapter argues that the first step in the attainment of projectable self is metacognition. This coordinated system further develops so it can mentally view mental representations that are not part of the here and now. Thus, simple metacognition should evolve before episodic memory, and the theory of mind seems to be correct. There are indications of self-recognition in the great apes. Adult humans project their consciousness of themselves into their own past and future. It may turn out that with further investigation, humans may not be alone in this regard.

Keywords: self-reflective consciousness; metacognition; mental representations; episodic memory; theory of mind

Chapter.  12373 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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