Tag Archives: collective brain

What makes us smart? at The University of Queensland’s School of Economics

December 17, 2022

I spoke at the University of Queensland‘s School of Economics about the factors that contribute to human intelligence. The talk was a broad sweep of my work on intelligence and human evolution, including work in progress. A lot of this work is covered in my forthcoming book, A Theory of Everyone.

Some of the key papers discussed include:

  1. Schimmelpfennig, R. & Muthukrishna, M.  (2023). Cultural Evolutionary Behavioural Science in Public Policy. Behavioural Public Policy. [Publisher] [Download] [Twitter] [LinkedIn]
  2. Muthukrishna, M., Bell, A. V., Henrich, J., Curtin, C., Gedranovich, A., McInerney, J. & Thue, B. (2020). Beyond Western, Educated, Industrial, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) Psychology: Measuring and Mapping Scales of Cultural and Psychological Distance. Psychological Science, 31(6), 678-701. [Download] [Supplementary] [Code] [Summary Post] [Publisher] [Twitter]
  3. Henrich, J. & Muthukrishna, M. (2021). The Origins and Psychology of Human Cooperation. Annual Review of Psychology, 72, 207-40. [Download] [Publisher] [Twitter]
  4. Muthukrishna, M., Henrich, J. & Slingerland, E. (2021). Psychology as a Historical Science. Annual Review of Psychology, 72, 717-49. [Download] [Publisher] [Twitter]
  5. Muthukrishna, M., Francois, P., Pourahmadi, S., & Henrich, J. (2017). Corrupting Cooperation and How Anti-Corruption Strategies May Backfire. Nature Human Behaviour, 1(0138). [Download] [Summary Post] [Publisher]
  6. Muthukrishna, M., Doebeli, M., Chudek, M., & Henrich, J. (2018). The Cultural Brain Hypothesis: How culture drives brain expansion, sociality, and life history. PLOS Computational Biology, 14(11): e1006504. [Download] [Supplementary] [Summary Post] [Publisher] [Twitter]
  7. Muthukrishna, M. & Henrich, J. (2016). Innovation in the Collective Brain. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371(1690).  [Telegraph] [Scientific American] [Video] [Evonomics] [LSE Business Review] [Summary Post] [Download] [Data] [Publisher]
  8. Schimmelpfennig, R., Razek, L., Schnell, E., & Muthukrishna, M. (2021). Paradox of Diversity in the Collective Brain. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. [Download] [Summary Post] [Publisher] [Twitter]
  9. Uchiyama, R., Spicer, R. & Muthukrishna, M. (2021). Cultural Evolution of Genetic Heritability. [Target article]. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1-147. [Download] [Summary Post] [Publisher] [Twitter]

Paradox of Diversity in the Collective Brain at The Emergence of Collective Knowledge and Cumulative Culture in Animals, Humans and Machines meeting at The Royal Society

I spoke at The Royal Society at meeting on “The emergence of collective knowledge and cumulative culture in animals, humans and machines”.

Robin Schimmelpfenning and I discussed our co-authored paper on the paradox of diversity in the collective brain. We discuss how the rate of innovation depends on sociality, information fidelity, and cultural trait diversity. While cultural trait diversity offers the largest potential for empowering innovation, it also brings with it potential coordination and cooperation challenges. Diversity, in other words, is both a source of innovation and divisive; a double-edge sword. We then propose using cultural evolvability as a framework for resolving this paradox. 

Our presentation was followed by a discussion session and subsequently a panel discussion chaired by Dominic Abrams.

Many thanks to Andrew Whiten, Dora Biro, Ellen Garland, and Simon Kirby for organizing the event.

Royal Society Publishing on Twitter: "New theme issue 'The emergence of  collective knowledge and cumulative #culture in animals, humans and machines'  edited by Andrew Whiten, @dora_biro_ @EllenGarland4 and @SimonKirby  https://t.co/aAT6VAO8pv. Linked to

Paradox of Diversity in the Collective Brain

Summary from Twitter thread:

🚨New paper: “Paradox of diversity in the collective brain” in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences with Robin Schimmelpfennig, Layla Razek, and Eric Schnell: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rstb.2020.0316?af=R

Press release

Resolving the paradox of diversity: How can we reap the benefits of diversity without paying the costs of co-ordination?

It’s a sequel to paper with Joe Henrich on innovation in the collective brain, but focusing on the dual role of diversity in innovation, which was only hinted at in that paper. 

Here’s the take home: diversity empowers innovation through recombination but also by definition divides us. We call this the paradox of diversity. A principled way to resolve this tension is by considering cultural evolvability.

We discuss implications for entrepreneurship, polarization & a nuanced take on diversity. This framework can also guide researchers and practitioners in how to reap the benefits of diversity by reducing costs.

Let’s start with innovation: A folk understanding of innovation is that it’s driven by a talented few – the giants upon whose shoulders we stand. But that view is inconsistent with theoretical and empirical work in cultural evolution. 

Instead, innovations emerge as ideas flow through our social networks, requiring a specific innovator no more than your thoughts require a specific neuron. See: Innovation in the Collective Brain

People are often unaware of how little they actually deeply understand about the world – what’s referred to as the “knowledge illusion” or “illusion of explanatory depth”. The Knowledge Illusion is a good pop book on the topic.


The world is not only complicated, but more complicated than our psychology allows us to believe. Innovations emerge through incremental improvements through partial causal models and large leaps through serendipity & recombination. 

Three key levers that affect innovation are sociality (size & interconnectedness of a population), transmission fidelity (how well you can transmit information between people), & cultural trait diversity. Diversity has the most potential benefit and the largest challenges.

Let me say a bit about each.
1. Sociality: in general +ve relationship, because large pops had to solve the coordination problem to become large. Interconnectivity has an optimal point. Small work groups can be easily overconnected; large pops should be more connected.


2. Transmission fidelity: under selection as cultural complexity increases. Hunter-gatherers not much explicit instruction.Industrial revolution eventually led to schools to download a minimum common cultural package – reading, writing, arithmetic, algorithms for thinking.

Today we have the printing press, radio, TV, Internet, social media, and Zoom. But there’s still too much to learn. Unless you get a PhD, 21C students don’t learn mathematics developed after 1900; scientific training is longer, & major contributions are made at an older age.


We spend longer learning, delaying kids. Theres limit to pop size & transmission; how long you can delay being productive. Another path is to divide up info & labor-specialize. Get smart at 1 thing & stupid at everything else: cultural trait diversity

Different kinds of diversity & different ways to measure it. Our focus is on cultural trait diversity-beliefs, behaviors, assumptions, values, technologies, & other transmissible traits. e.g. languages, processing techniques, technical skills, family structure & occupation.

In the public discourse, diversity often refers to ancestry or physical characteristics-skin color, ethnic origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or ability. These may correlate with cultural trait diversity, but correlation may weaken over generations.

For example, Americans with different ancestries may possess similar WEIRD psychology (part of why I have an issue with the WEIRD=White take, though that’s a separate issue). I’ll use diversity from herein, but that’s what we mean. 

Diversity can be distributed in different ways:
Diversity between pops culturally evolves as pops adapt to local differences, influencing future generations through historical path dependence created by past conditions or founder populations. See also: Psychology as a Historical Science

Diversity within populations evolves as information and labor are divided as discussed above.

Within-population diversity includes disciplinary differences, such as the sciences and humanities, industry specialisations, guilds, and firms. Diversity can be structured as ‘cultural clusters’ by ethnicity, class, wealth, occupation, politics, religion, or incidental geographic layout. Cultural clusters may intersect, such as in ethnic occupation specialization-lots of examples. See also: Beyond WEIRD Psychology: Measuring and Mapping Scales of Cultural and Psychological Distance

Diversity may also exist within certain individuals—multicultural individuals, ‘third culture kids’ (like Barack Obama), interdisciplinary researchers, and so on.

Diversity is therefore both the product of cultural evolution and fuel for the engine of further innovation 

But without common understanding & common goals, the flow of ideas in social networks is stymied, preventing recombination, and reducing innovation. Consider communication without a common language or collaborations between scientists & humanities, or different scientists. 

We formalize this paradox of diversity trade off in the paper and will be exploring solutions in future work. Check out the paper for details. We argue cultural evolvability is the right way to think about this.



Evolvability refers to not how well adapted a population is to current circumstances, but its ability to evolve to future circumstances. Variation or diversity, and the forces that create and stabilise that diversity are key factors that create evolvability.

Cultural evolvability is a balance between diversity and selection, exploring and exploiting, sampling and specialising, convergent and divergent thinking, stability and change, efficiency and flexibility. 

Lots of related work on diversity and selection, explore-exploit or sampling-specialising trade-off in development, search for global solutions & avoidance of saddle points within machine learning.

As an aside, ML insights: in a sufficiently high dimensional space there are effectively no local optima, only saddle points with some dimension that allows escape. Biological & cultural systems have large dimensionality, there are no true evolutionary stable equilibria.

Next, we review the diversity literature through the lens of cultural evolvability. First we lay out 9 challenges to interpreting the literature. It’s a literature that would be benefit from theory. See also: A Problem in Theory


Diversity overlaps with challenging aspects of psychology, norms & institutions: racism, prejudice, xenophobia, sexism, discrimination, power differences, social and economic inequalities.

Love to write about at some point, here we focus on coordination challenges, which influence and are influenced by these problematic features of the world. Our goal is to review the overall patterns in the literature and make sense of these in light of cultural evolvability. 

Here’s some of the mixed lit: Within countries, diversity is often approximated by birthplace diversity, professional diversity, ethnic diversity or linguistic diversity. Research looking at the relationship between diversity and economic growth suggests:  positive effect of birthplace diversity, but -ve effect of ethnic and linguistic diversity. Research asking questions about immigrants in general often ignore the heterogeneity – cultural distance and education (effectively the cultural traits in your head) matter. Even more mixed in firms. Overall, educational diversity and deep level diversity seem to be positive for innovation within a firm. Mixed effects within teams – we think the paradox of diversity can disentangle. 

We derive some insights: 

1. Cultural evolvability means tolerance for diversity. Currently less adaptive traits may be more adaptive when the environment changes. Different environments lead to different evolvability strategies. In materially insecure societies, not following a successful “Tiger Mom” strategy—working hard to secure scarce educational opportunities and subsequent employment opportunities—has a much larger cost. But this leads to incremental over radical innovation.

2. Cultural evolvability means under-optimization & inequality. Cultural evolvability necessarily means inequality in outcomes, because not all will have the optimal strategy for the current environment.

Firms face a tradeoff: strategies that favour efficiency & strategies that favour flexibility. Consistent, strong cultures perform well in stable markets, but poorly during times of change. Under-optimizing and allowing for flexibility increases a firm’s evolvability.

Not all firms can bear the cost of under-optimising in the short term-high risk, high value approaches better suited to larger firms or larger countries. Read about Satya Nadella and Microsoft:

Compromize strategies: skunkworks, ecosystems of different firms trying different strategies (e.g. Silicon Valley), or countries composed of different states or regions trying different approaches (e.g. what Justice Brandeis described as “laboratories of democracy”). 

In shared multi-agent reinforcement learning, diversity increases performance through exploration and individualized behaviors. Evolvability means many approaches will be suboptimal or even fail, but the successful approaches can be spread and benefit the group as a whole. 

Indeed one of the benefits of access to multiple cultures in pluralistic, multicultural societies is the ability to create new approaches by learning, borrowing, copying from each other and other cultures. We should do more of that. 

3. Cultural evolvability helps explain levels of entrepreneurship. Cultural evolvability requires doing something different. Most new businesses fail & the willingness to take a risk depends on personal and population-level costs and benefits.

A. personal cost of deviation: many deviations will result in lower payoffs than following the majority trait. If it were obvious how to do better, most of the population would already use the better strategy. Tolerating diversity in traits, thus, means tolerating failure. 

Reducing cost of failure increases entrepreneurship: bankruptcy laws, social safety nets, rich parents – a child with parents in the top 1% income distribution is 10 times more likely to be an inventor than a child born below the median, controlling for measures of ability. 

B. population-level benefit of deviation. In a large economy with a large customer base comes large rewards for large innovations – the few winners can win bigger. Amazon can make more money in the United States than in Australia. Here’s a great video of Bezos describing his vision back in 1997:

C. Who pays the cost and who benefits from the innovation at a population-level, a function of the scale of cooperation. Even if at an individual-level the benefits of entrepreneurship don’t outweigh costs, they may do so at a population-level. 

Silicon Valley offers an example. For every Apple & Amazon, there are 1000s of start-ups that have failed – most start-ups fail & the overwhelming majority never receive funding (114) – ‘unicorns’ are called unicorns for a reason. But the few successes pay for the failures.

4. Cultural evolvability prevents polarization & cultural speciation. Harshly punishing minor deviations increases extremism. If you’re harshly punished anyway, may as well take the extreme position. If there weretolerance for diverse view points, I’d moderate my position. 


Model and results also inform debates on freedom of speech, predicting large sanctions for small deviations may encourage a divided society. By corrolary tolerating multicultural diversity of opinions and cultural traits may prevent polarization. 

Cultural clustering complicates everything, but I’ll let you read about that in the paper. It gets into colonialism, resource competition, and intergroup violence. 50/ To conclude, diversity has been central to the success of all life. Until around 1.2 billion years ago the source of that diversity was mutation – genetic innovation through serendipity and incremental improvement alone. Single cells reproducing by simple replication.

Sex unlocked the recombinatorial power of diversity, increasing evolvability and the speed of evolution. So too with culture, but there are many barriers to cultural traits meeting and recombining.

We live in an increasingly connected & multicultural world. Migration is a constant feature of the human story, but since the Age of Mass Migration, more people from more culturally distant societies live side by side. Their countries of origin must coordinate as never before.

So much human potential is lost through unequal access to information and adaptive cultural traits. The goal of any society or org should be to reap the benefits of diversity and minimize the costs, thereby maximizing human potential. We discuss several strategies. 


Humans are a deeply cooperative species. Our greatest achievements and our worst atrocities are both cooperative acts. In a more diverse world, the challenge is greater, so too are the potential gains. 


Paradox of Diversity in the Collective Brain at the Mathematics of Intelligences workshop, Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM), UCLA

I presented various models related to the paradox of diversity at the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM), at UCLA. The most relevant papers are probably my paper on the Paradox of Diversity and on scales of cooperation.

“Cultural Evolutionary Psychology” at Human Behavior and Evolution Society (HBES) Conference 2021 [online]

I gave a plenary talk at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society (HBES) Conference on “cultural evolutionary psychology”. My talk discussed how the Cultural Brain and the Collective Brain, can unify the work done in the last decade in evolutionary psychology under a common framework.

I explained how these hypotheses shed light on our understanding of intelligence, innovationcooperation and the “paradox of diversity”.

Considering the limitations of psychology today, I discussed ways in which we can move beyond WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) psychology in a global collaborative manner and strengthen the links between basic and applied policy research. I also discussed the importance of historical psychology.

Many thanks to Joseph Henrich for the enthusiastic introduction.

Interview with Kensy Cooperrider on Many Minds

I had a fun, far-reaching, free-ranging conversation about my research and research motivations with Kensy Cooperrider on Many Minds.

Listening options:


Today’s episode is a conversation with Dr. Michael Muthukrishna, an Associate Professor of Economic Psychology at the London School of Economics.

Michael’s research takes on a suite of topics that all start from a single big question: Why are we so different from other animals? Part of the answer has to do with our neural hardware. There’s no question we’ve got big brains—and Michael has some cool things to say about why they may have gotten so big. But Michael is just as focused on our cultural software—the tools and ideas we develop, tweak, share, and accumulate over time. You might say he’s more impressed by our collective brains than by our individual brains. To study all this, Michael builds formal theories and computational models; he runs experiments; and he constructs and analyzes huge databases.

We cover a lot of ground in this episode. We talk about the finding that the size and interconnectedness of a social group affects the cultural skills that group can develop and maintain. We consider what actually powers innovation (hint: it’s not lone geniuses). We discuss how diversity is a bit double-edged and why psychology needs to become a historical science. And that, my friends, is hardly all—we also touch on cetaceans, religious history, and spinning plates.

I’ve been hoping to have Michael on the show for months now. His work is deeply theoretical, advancing the basic science of what it means to be human. But it’s also engaged with important practical issues—issues like corruption and cultural diversity. Without further ado, here’s my conversation with Dr. Michael Muthukrishna. Enjoy!

A transcript of this show will be available soon.

Notes and links

4:30 – An introduction to “dual inheritance theory.”

11:00 – A 2013 paper by Dr. Muthukrishna and colleagues about the relationship between sociality and cultural complexity.

12:15 – A paper on the loss of cultural tools and traditions in the Tasmanian case.

21:20 – A 2016 paper by Dr. Muthukrishna and Joseph Henrich on innovation and the collective brain.

28:30 – The original paper on the notion of cultural “tightness” and “looseness.”

30:20 – A recent short piece by Dr. Muthukrishna on the paradox of diversity.

34:50 – A 2019 popular piece of mine on the phenomenon of “global WEIRDing.”

40:27 – The so-called Flynn Effect refers to the puzzling rise of IQ scores over time. It is named after James Flynn, who died only weeks ago.

42:30 – A paper about the significance of Luria’s work on abstract reasoning in Uzbekistan.

50:26 – A paper on the “cultural brain hypothesis,” the subject of Dr. Muthukrishna’s dissertation.

51:00 – A paper on brains as fundamentally “expensive.”

58:00 – Boyd & Richardson, mentioned here, have authored a number of highly influential books. The first of these was Culture and the Evolutionary Process.

59:35 – A 2015 paper on head size and emergency birth interventions.

1:01:20 – The stylized model we mention here is discussed and illustrated in this lecture from the 2020 Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute.

1:03:15 – The paper by Dr. Muthukrishna and colleagues on cetacean brains and culture.

1:11:38 – The paper by Dr. Muthukrishna and colleagues on ‘Psychology as a Historical Science.’

1:14:00 – The 2020 paper by Dr. Muthukrishna and colleagues introducing a tool for the measurement of cultural distance.

1:20:20 – Dr. Muthukrishna is part of the team behind the Database of Religious History.

1:24:25 – The paper by Dr. Muthukrishna and Joe Henrich on ‘The Origins and Psychology of Human Cooperation.’

Dr. Muthukrishna’s end-of-show reading recommendations:

Joseph Henrich, The Secret of Our Success & The WEIRDest People in the World

Matt Ridley, How Innovation Works

Matthew Syed, Rebel Ideas

You can keep up with Dr. Muthukrishna’s work at his personal website and on Twitter (@mmuthukrishna).

Many Minds is a project of the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute (DISI) (https://www.diverseintelligencessummer.com/), which is made possible by a generous grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation to UCLA. It is hosted and produced by Kensy Cooperrider, with creative support from DISI Directors Erica Cartmill and Jacob Foster, and Associate Director Hilda Loury. Our artwork is by Ben Oldroyd (https://www.mayhilldesigns.co.uk/). Our transcripts are created by Sarah Dopierala (https://sarahdopierala.wordpress.com/).

You can subscribe to Many Minds on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Google Play, or wherever you like to listen to podcasts.

We welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions. Feel free to email us at: manymindspodcast@gmail.com.

For updates about the show, follow us on Twitter: @ManyMindsPod.

“What affects our level of intelligence?” at the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute hosted by the Templeton World Charity Foundation at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, UK.

This year’s Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute was held online due to the pandemic. I delivered a lecture over Zoom on “What affects our level of intelligence?” followed by a lively discussion with the students. The lecture discussed brain evolution, the Cultural Brain Hypothesis, collective brain, and a cultural evolutionary account of intelligence. You can watch it below:

Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF) Grantee Meeting at the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute at the University of St Andrews, Scotland

I spent the last few days at the Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF) Grantee Meeting at the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. This was my second time attending the meeting and I enjoyed once again discussing the challenges of understanding intelligence (and its implications) with an amazingly diverse and interdisciplinary group of brilliant scholars.

Evolutionary Demography Seminar Series at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK

I was delighted to accept an invitation from Rebecca Sear to present some recent work on “Cultural Evolution and the Collective Brain” at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Evo Demo Seminar Series. A fun evening chatting to people asking similar questions.

Cultural Transmission and Social Norms Workshop” at the School of Economics, The University of East Anglia, UK.

I was invited to present my work on innovation and cultural evolution at the “Cultural Transmission and Social Norms Workshop” hosted by the School of Economics at The University of East Anglia, UK. I presented “Innovation in the Collective Brain: The Transmission and Evolution of Norms and Culture”, beginning with an introduction to cultural evolution for the audience of primarily economists. I then discussed innovation as a product of our “collective brains“.

This research is summarized in this news post and in the original paper.

Muthukrishna, M. & Henrich, J. (2016). Innovation in the Collective Brain. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371(1690).  [Telegraph] [Scientific American] [Video] [Evonomics] [LSE Business Review] [Summary Post] [Download] [Data]

Project Zero – Learning Innovations Laboratory (LILA) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA

I spent the last week back at Harvard University discussing research on cultural evolution and innovation with the Learning Innovations Laboratory (LILA), part of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The LILA group include people from industry and the military. Every year the group invites two academics to discuss their research and how it might be applied to problems faced by members of the group. This year, Mary Ann Glynn and I were invited. It was an intellectually enriching opportunity to apply my work to current challenges in corporations and other organizations.

The ideas presented in my two talks were beautifully captured in the graphics below:

The Science of Cultural Evolution: What Makes Humans So Different

02_michaelmuthukrishna_ltrSources of Innovation: The Secret of Human Success


Culture Conference in Birmingham, UK

I spent the last couple of days at a small conference on cumulative culture organized by Claudio Tennie and his two PhD students Elisa Bandini and Eva Reindl. The theme was “When and How does Cumulative Culture Emerge”. It was an excellent meeting – large enough to have a diversity of views, small enough to have interesting conversations with almost all participants.

I presented my recent paper with Joe Henrich on “Innovation in the Collective Brain“.

Other speakers and attendees included:

Carel van Schaik (University of Zurich)
Christine Caldwell (University of Stirling)
Pete Richerson (UC Davis)
Helena Miton (Central European University)
Rachel Kendal (Durham University)
Olivier Morin (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History)
Mathieu Charbonneau (Central European University)
Andrew Buskell (London School of Economics)
Alex Mesoudi (University of Exeter)
Rachel Harrison (University of St Andrews)
Takao Sasaki (Oxford)
Celia Heyes (Oxford)
Elena Miu (University of St Andrews)
Julie Coultas (University of Sussex)
Keith Jensen (University of Manchester)
Thibaud Gruber (University of Geneva)


Innovation in the Collective Brain

Last week, my paper with Joe Henrich on “Innovation in the Collective Brain” was published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological SciencesI explain some of the key points in the video below:

To very briefly summarize, innovation is often assumed to be an individual endeavor driven by geniuses and then passed on to the masses. Consider Thomas Edison and the lightbulb or Gutenberg and the printing press. We argue that rather than a result of far-sighted geniuses, innovations are an emergent property of our species’ cultural learning abilities, applied within our societies and social networks. Our societies and social networks act as collective brains.

Innovations, large or small, do not require heroic geniuses any more than your thoughts hinge on a particular neuron.

The paper outlines how many human brains, which evolved primarily for the acquisition of culture, together beget a collective brain. Within these collective brains, the three main sources of innovation are:

  1. serendipity
  2. recombination, and
  3. incremental improvement.

We argue that rates of innovation are heavily influenced by:

  1. sociality
  2. transmission fidelity, and
  3. cultural variance.

We discuss some of the forces that affect these factors. These factors can also shape each other. For example, we provide preliminary evidence that transmission efficiency is affected by sociality—languages with more speakers are more efficient.


We argue that collective brains can make each of their constituent cultural brains more innovative. This perspective sheds light on traits, such as IQ, that have been implicated in innovation. A collective brain perspective can help us understand otherwise puzzling findings in the IQ literature, including group differences, heritability differences, and the dramatic increase in IQ test scores over time.

Selected Media Coverage

The Telegraph

Scientific American