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The neuropsychology of visuospatial and visuomotor development.

Atkinson, J. and Nardini, M. (2008) 'The neuropsychology of visuospatial and visuomotor development.', in Child neuropsychology : concepts, theory and practice. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 183-217.


In its most general form, evolutionary psychology is simply psychology that is properly grounded in evolutionary biology. But most research that falls under the banner of evolutionary psychology might be given a more specific gloss, as the Darwinian adaptationist programme applied to the mind/brain. How does this idea work? Viewed through the lens of Darwinian theory, organisms are (for the most part) integrated collections of adaptations, where adaptations are phenotypic traits that are evolved responses to adaptive problems, and where adaptive problems are selection pressures — recurring environmental conditions that influence reproductive success, or fitness, of individual organisms. Adaptations, then, contribute (or once contributed) to the reproductive success of the organisms that have them. Fitness maximisation per se is not a goal of individual organisms, however. Organisms cannot seek directly to maximise their fitness, since what counts as fitnesspromoting behaviour in one situation or for one individual is not likely to be so in another situation or for another individual (Cosmides & Tooby, 1987; Symons, 1992). Rather, thanks to their specific adaptations, individual organisms have correspondingly specific goals that are tied to particular aspects of their physical and social environments, and to the lives they lead in those environments, and which affect, directly or indirectly, their reproductive success. In other words, organisms maximise their fitness by solving many specific adaptive problems. Evolutionary psychology 'simply' applies this well-established Darwinian reasoning to the human brain. Thus conceived, the brain is an integrated collection of psychological åmechanisms that evolved because their behavioural effects tended to help maintain or increase the fitness of organisms whose brains contained those mechanisms. The human brain is thus viewed as a system of psychological adaptations, a system shaped by natural selection to solve many specific adaptive problems.

Item Type:Book chapter
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Publisher statement:© 2008, Wiley-Blackwell
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:22 April 2015
Date of first online publication:2008
Date first made open access:No date available

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