Ontogenesis, semiosis and the epigenetic dynamics of biocultural niche construction

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In this article I address the significance of semiotic processes supporting early social interaction, communication and learning in the evolution of the modern human niche of infancy and childhood, known to be extended even in comparison with closely related hominin species. Human infancy and childhood is a biocultural niche, embedded within and causally contributing to the expansion and elaboration of the wider human biocultural complex, including both semiotic and praxic spheres. Epigenetic constructive processes were crucial in the evolution of the niche of ontogenesis, and niche construction through epigenetic augmentation is the key to understanding human symbolic evolution, the advent of human behavioral modernity and the capture of evolutionary processes by socio-cultural dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-209
Number of pages8
JournalCognitive Development
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015


  • Biocultural niche construction
  • Epigenesis
  • Ontogenesis
  • Praxis
  • Semiosphere

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