In 2018, scientists came one step closer to understanding how humans developed their own language. Inverse reported in February on a Frontiers in Psychology study, which posited that the revelatory capability emerged because the creation of cave art ignited what scientists call “symbolic thinking.” The pairing of painting and sound by ancient humans, they argue, was no coincidence — it was the stepping stone towards our modern ability to express ourselves with words.
Symbolic thinking is the capacity to represent thoughts, beings, and events that aren’t actually present. Researchers from MIT and the Universities of Tokyo and São Paulo argue that examples of cave art symbolic thinking are moments of expression like the orange and white hands of Cueva de las Manos in Argentina and the herd of bison painting in Frances’ Lascaux cave. It’s theorized that these images are not just representations of concepts and events — they were purposefully placed in locations with certain acoustic properties.Read More... How Cave Paintings Led to the Creation of Human Language