Evidence of Functional Specialization

Mel Rutherford

The human mind is exquisitely coordinated with the environment in which it evolved. Evidence of Functional Specialization of the human mind is inexplicable from a domain-general or associationistic perspective. Here I will provide evidence of functional coordination with both the physical and the social environment in which the human species evolved. The gravitational field in which humans evolved has affected the design of the visual system such that gravity is taken into account in the perception of speed and the perception of animacy. The psychological organization of emotion categories does not follow a symmetrical organization that would be the default expectation, but shows evidence of functional organization. Even the Theory of Mind mechanism, specialized for calculating the relationship between actions and mental states, is elegantly designed for our hierarchical social world such that it is more sensitive when a person is lower in status. Three empirical projects from different areas illustrate the point that the mind shows exquisite functional specialization, so well-coordinated with the environment that it would be difficult to explain without appeal to evolution by natural selection.

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