We are now passing through a third transition, which has its deep origins about 35,000 years ago, but is still gaining momentum. In purely cognitive terms, it is defined by the proliferation of external symbols, the growth of the communications media, and the introduction of "cognitive artifacts" such as computers. These have engineered a major structural change in the way both our collective and individual cognitive business is conducted. It has also radically affected the process of neural epigenesis in the individual brain; in this sense, it is literally altering our cognitive architecture.
These recent changes present traditional civilizations with some unprecedented
Professor, Department of Psychology, Queen's University at Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
My research interests have centred mostly on neuropsychology, including
(1) the neural basis of
consciousness and selective attention; (2) the bilingual brain; (3) the nature of the neural and
cognitive deficits caused by diabetes and stroke; (4) the use of case histories in neuropsychology.
Recently my research and scholarship has focused more on cognitive evolution, specifically on
hominid brain evolution, and on the effects of cultural and technological change on human cognition.
Currently I am writing a book on consciousness.
Fellowships and Visiting Professorships:
Donald, Merlin. The mind considered from a historical perspective: Human cognitive phylogenesis and the possibility of continuing cognitive evolution. In The Future of the Cognitive Revolution. Edited by David Martel Johnson and Christina E. Erneling. Oxford University Press, New York, 1997. Abstract.
Donald, Merlin. The neurobiology of human consciousness: An evolutionary approach. Special Issue: The biology and neuropsychology of consciousness. Neuropsychologia, 1995 Sep, v33 (n9):1087-1102. Abstract.
Donald, Merlin. "Precis of Origins of the modern mind: Three stages in the evolution of culture and cognition" Behavioral & Brain Sciences 16. 4 (Dec 1993): 737-791. Abstract with link to full text and commentaries.
Donald, Merlin. Origins of the modern mind: Three stages in the evolution of
culture and cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991. Abstract.