What Makes the Human Mind?

From Harvard Magazine:

Marc During the past few decades, a mounting body of evidence has shown that animals possess a number of cognitive traits once thought to be uniquely human. Bees “talk” through complex dances and sounds; birds act as “social tutors,” teaching song repertoires to their young; monkeys use tools and can sort abstract symbols into categories. Yet the more scientists learn about the similarities between human and animal thought, the greater the need to explain the dramatic divide. Are the human faculties associated with language simply an advanced version of capacities that are found in animals, or do they represent something that is qualitatively new?

This puzzle has drawn the attention of professor of psychology, organismic and evolutionary biology, and biological anthropology Marc Hauser, who has written widely on human and animal cognition. Drawing on a range of recent studies that link the fields of linguistics, biology, and psychology, Hauser has attempted to isolate the aspects of human thought that account for what he terms “humaniqueness.” He maintains that even though human brains have inherited many of the raw abilities observed in nonhuman animal species, a divergence arises from the ways in which multiple capacities interact in humans, allowing them to convert information into myriad forms to serve infinitely diverse ends.

More here.