Electrodermal tools

Theories in extended cognition suggest that mind is a process generated by the integration among brain, body and environment (including technology). Actually, tools are integrated into the body structural and functional schemes when handled, and the central nervous system delegates some capacities to these extra-body peripheral elements. Haptics concerns the perceptual and somatic response during hand-tool interaction, bridging sensing and cognition. Electrodermal activity is as a quick and simple proxy for some kinds of cognitive reactions (like attention or general arousal), and can be used to test emotional changes during stone tool handling, according to different tool typologies. Now we have published a full research paper on electrodermal activity during Lower Paleolithic stone tool manipulation. There are subtle but significant differences between males and females, and between choppers and handaxes. Specific physical features of the tools do influence the electrodermal reaction. If the body-tool system is regulated according to a “prosthetic capacity” of our cognitive mechanisms, electrodermal feedback can supply a first glimpse to investigate changes and discontinuities into the archaeological record, following basic principles in psychology and electrophysiology. The main aim is clear:  to move cognitive archaeology into quantitative hypotheses testing.

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