Derek Hodgson 
Cognitive archaeology, palaeoart


Research Associate at Dept. of Archaeololgy, University of York since 2006 exploring the relationship between neuroscience, cognition, archaeology, and anthropology.


Research Interests

Research interests include understanding the archaeological record from the perspective of evolutionary psychology, paleoneurology, and neuro-psychology/archaeology through examining the structure of the brain and associated cognitive processes. Also interested in examining the ways in which the modern human brain differs from nonhuman primates in order to determine the evolution of cognitive abilities in hominins. Palaeolithic art and lithics are also of special interest, which are analysed by applying the findings of the above disciplines as well as the psychology of visual perception.

Currently working on:

  • How the visuo-spatial and motor pathways of the human brain interact with tool making.
  • The importance of population levels and how these interact with cognitive structures and the material record.
  • The similarities and differences in the neuro-architecture of the human and nonhuman primate brain.
  • The significance of Darwinian Evolution for understanding the origin of the arts.
  • Understanding Palaeolithic art by applying the findings of perception and the visual brain.


Journal Papers

Hodgson. D. 2000. Art, Perception and Information Processing: An Evolutionary Perspective. Rock Art Research. 17 (1): 3-34.

Hodgson, D. 2000. Shamanism, Phosphenes, and Early Art: An Alternative Synthesis. Current Anthropology. 41 (5): 866-873.

Hodgson. D. 2002. Canonical perspective and typical features in children's drawings: A neuroscientific appraisal. British Journal of Developmental Psychology. 20 (4): 565-579.

Hodgson. D. 2003. Seeing the “Unseen”: Fragmented Cues and the Implicit in Palaeolithic Art. Cambridge Archaeological Journal. 13 (1): 97-106.

Hodgson. D. 2003.The Biological Foundations of Upper Palaeolithic Art: Stimulus. Percept and Representational Imperatives. Rock Art Research. 20 (1): 3-22.

Hodgson, D. 2004. Ways of Seeing - The Innocent Eye, Individual View and Visual Realism in Art. Journal of Consciousness Studies. 11 (12): 3-16.

Hodgson, D. 2005. Graphic Primitives and the Embedded Figure in 20th Century Art: Insights from Neuroscience, Ethology and Perception. Leonardo. 38 (1): 55-58.

Hodgson, D. 2006. Altered States of Consciousness and Palaeoart: An Alternative Neurovisual Explanation. Cambridge Archaeological Journal. 16: (1): 27-37.

Hodgson, D. 2006. Understanding the Origins of Palaeoart: The Neurovisual Resonance Theory and Brain Functioning. Paleoanthropology

Hodgson. D. 2006. Tracings of the mind: the role of hallucinations, pseudohallucinations and visual imagery in Franco-Cantabrian cave art. Anthroglobe.

Hodgson, D. 2008. An "aesthetic" explanation for the symmetry of Acheulian handaxes: some neuropsychological insights. Plastir. 12 (Sept.)

Hodgson, D. 2008 The Visual Dynamics of Upper Palaeolithic Art. Cambridge Archaeological Journal. 18 (3): 341-353. Available at:

Hodgson, D. 2009. Evolution of the visual cortex and the emergence of symmetry in the Acheulean techno-complex. C.R. Palevol. 8: 93-97.

Hodgson, D. 2010. Determining the behavioural profile of early modern humans: assimilating population dynamics and cognitive abilities. Before Farming.  2 (1).

Hodgson, D. 2011. The First Appearance of Symmetry in the Human Lineage: Where Perception Meets Art. Symmetry. 3(1), 37-53; doi:10.3390/sym3010037

Hodgson, D. 2012. Hominin Tool Production, Neural Integration and the Social Brain.  Human Origins.1: 41-64.

Hodgson, D. 2012. Emanations of the mind: Upper Palaeolithic art as a visual phenomenon. Time and Mind. 5 (2): 185-193. Accommodating Opposing Perspectives in the “Modern Human Behaviour” Debate

Hodgson, D. 2012.. Current Anthropology. 53(3): 358.

Hodgson, D. 2013. Cognitive Evolution, Population, Transmission, and Material Culture. Biological Theory. 7: 237-246.

Hodgson, D. 2013.  The consequences of human behavior. In special issue “Humanity’s Future”. Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Hodgson, D. 2013. The Visual Brain, Perception, and the Depiction of Animals in Rock Art. The Journal of Archaeology. Article ID 342801.    

Hodgson, D. 2014. Commentary on Turing instabilities and symbolic material culture by Froese, Woodward and Ikegami. Adaptive Behaviour. 22:86-88. 


Hodgson, D. 2014. Decoding the Blombos Engravings, Shell Beads, and Diepkloof Ostrich Eggshell Patterns. Cambridge Archaeological Journal. 24(1): 57 – 69.

Hodgson, D. 2014. The Significance of the Pech Merle Spotted Horses. MDPI World Rock Art. doi: 10.3390/arts3020207

Hodgson, D. 2015. The symmetry of Acheulean handaxes and cognitive evolution.  Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.  2: 204-208.

Hodgson, D. 2017. Costly signalling, the arts, archaeology and human behaviour. World Archaeology. 12(1):  DOI: 10.1080/00438243.2017.1281757

Hodgson, D. (in press). Closely Observed Animals, Hunter-Gatherers and Visual Imagery in Upper Palaeolithic Art. Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture.


Co-authored  papers

Hodgson, D. and Helvenston, P. A. 2006. The Emergence of the Representation of Animals in Palaeoart: Insights from evolution and the cognitive, limbic and visual systems of the human brain. Rock Art Research 23 (1): 3-40.

Helvenston, P. A. and Hodgson, D. 2010. The Neuropsychology of “Animism”: Implications for Understanding Rock Art. Rock Art Research. 27 (1): 61-94.

Hodgson, D. and Verpooten, J. 2014.  The Evolutionary Significance of the Arts: Exploring the By-product Hypothesis in the Context of Ritual, Precursors, and Cultural Evolution. Biological Theory. 10:73-85. DOI: 10.1007/s13752-014-0182-y

Hodgson, D. and Watson, B. 2015. The visual brain and the early depiction of animals in Europe and Southeast Asia. World Archaeology. 47(5): 776-791.

Mukhopadhyay, T. P. and Hodgson, D. 2016. Why is rock art so evocative? Affective depiction of animals from Coso Range petroglyphs, southwest California, and Isco, Hazaribagh, India. Expression. 12: 26-47.

Spikins, P., Wright, B. and Hodgson, D. 2016. Are there alternative adaptive strategies to human pro-sociality? The role of collaborative morality in the emergence of personality variation and autistic traits. Time and Mind. 9 (4): 289-313.

DOI: 10.1080/1751696X.2016.1244949


Edited Books

Hodgson. D. 2009. The Earliest Manifestations of ‘Art’: An Attempted Integration. In, Exploring the Mind of Ancient Man. pp. 25-34. P. C. Reddy (ed.) Research India Press: New Delhi.

Hodgson, D. 2008.  Neurovisual theory, the visuo-motor system and Pleistocene palaeoart. (Paper presented at UISPP XV International world congress in Lisbon, Portugal 2006). Published in Pleistocene Palaeoart of the World. R. G. Bednarik and D. Hodgson (eds). pp.49-55. BAR International Series 1804. Archaeopress: Oxford.

Hodgson, D. and Helvenston, P. 2010. The neuropsychological basis of rock art: hyperimagery and its significance for understanding the archaeological record. In, Archaeological Invisibility and Forgotten Knowledge. Conference Proceedings, University of Łódź, Poland, 5th–7th September 2007. K. Hardy (ed.). pp. 172-179. BAR International Series 2183: Archaeopress: Oxford.

Hodgson, D. 2013. Grappling with an enigma: the complexity of human behavior as a multidimensional phenomenon. In, The Psychology of Human Behavior  R. G. Bednarik (ed.). Nova Science Publishers: New York.

Hodgson, D. 2013. Ambiguity, Perception, and the First Representations. In, Origins of Pictures (Papers from the Chemnitz Conference, Germany (2010).  pp. 401-423. K. Sachs-Hombach and J. R. J. Schirra (eds.). Halem: Köln.

Hodgson, D. 2016. Deciphering Patterns in the Archaeology of South Africa: The Neurovisual Resonance Theory. In, Formal Models in Evolutionary Cognitive Archaeology. pp. 133-156. T. Wynn and F. Coolidge (eds.). Oxford University Press: New York.


Commentaries and Replies

Hodgson, D. 2000. Independent and overlapping trajectories relating the simple to the complex. Rock Art Research 17 (1): 27–31.

Hodgson, D. 2003. Perception, recognition, evolution and palaeoart: Interactive hierarchies and reciprocal correspondences. Rock Art Research. 20 (1): 14–18.

Hodgson, D. 2003. Primitives in palaeoart and the visual brain: the building-blocks of representation in art and perception. (commentary on "The Earliest Evidence of Palaeoart" by Robert G. Bednarik). Rock Art Research 20 (2):116-117.

Hodgson, D. 2004. Regarding Bednarik's Reply to Comments on 'The Earliest Evidence of Palaeoart.' (in Rock Art Research 2003, 20 (2): 89-135). Rock Art Research. 21 (1): p. 85 (with "response to Bradshaw and Hodgson" by R. Bednarik).

Hodgson, D. 2005. More on Acheulean Tools. Current Anthropology 46: 647-650.

Hodgson, D. 2008. Stopping doodles from getting out of hand. Comment on B. Watson ‘Oodles of doodles? Doodling behaviour and its implications for understanding palaeoarts.’ Rock Art Research 25 (1): 51–52.

Hodgson, D. 2009.  Commentary on “Acheulian Giant-Core Technology” by G. Sharon. Current Anthropology. 50 (3): 358-359.

Hodgson, D. 2009. Symmetry and humans: reply to Mithen's "Sexy Handaxe Theory” Antiquity.83: 195-198.

Hodgson, D. 2010. Another side of symmetry: the Acheulean biface debate. Antiquity.  085(325). Available from:

Hodgson, D. 2012. The parasitic nature of ‘art’: response to Varella et al. and associated commentaries. Rock Art Research. 29(2): 219- 229.

Hodgson, D. 2012. The lure of the arts. Rock Art Research. 29(2): 229-233.

Hodgson, D. 2013. Reframing rock art. Rock Art Research. 30 (2): 163-164.


Co-authored Replies

Helvenston, P. A. and Hodgson. D. 2006. Further thoughts on comments by Chippendale and a reply to Taçon. Rock Art Research. 23 (2): 249-253.

Hodgson, D. and Helvenston, P. A. 2007. The evolution of animal representation: response to Dobrez. Rock Art Research. 24 (1): 116-123.

Helvenston, P. A. and Hodgson, D. 2011.Wild Thing, I Think I Love You: The Importance of Animals in Human Evolution: A Comment on Shipman. Current Anthropology. 52, (3): p. 433.  


In Preparation

Stone Tools and Spatial Cognition


Invited Presentations, Conferences and Workshops

Hodgson, D. 2006. (4th – 9th September). “Neurovisual Theory, the Visuo-motor System and Pleistocene Palaeoart” presented at UISPP XV International World Congress, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal.

Hodgson, D. 2007 (26th April).  “The reorganisation of primary visual cortex and extrastriate areas of the human brain in relation to evolution and behavioural indicators” presented at Centre for Archaeology of Human Origins, Southampton University, Southampton, UK.

Hodgson, D. 2007. (5th – 8th  September). “Hyperimagery and rock art: visual imagery, perceptual ambiguities and ways of thinking” presented at,“Archaeological Invisibility and Forgotten Knowledge. Ethnoarchaeology, Hunter-gatherers, Ephemeral cultural aspects”  presented at Lódz University, Lódz , Poland.

Hodgson, D. 2010 (December). “Hominin Tool Production, Neural Integration and the Social Brain” presented to The British Academy at the Centre for Human Origins, Southampton University, UK in contribution to the project "From Lucy to Language: the Archaeology of the Social Brain.”

Hodgson, D. 2011 (30th March – 1st April). “Ambiguity, Perception, and the First Representations” presented at “Origins of Pictures” conference at Technische Universität Chemnitz, Chemnitz, Germany.

Hodgson, D. 2013. (19th – 21st September). “Deciphering Patterns in the Archaeology  of South Africa: The Neurovisual Resonance Theory” presented at the 3rd Annual Meeting of the European Society for the Study of Human Evolution at the University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Hodgson, D. 2014 (September 6th – 7th). “The visual brain, embodiment and the first visual cultures: what can they tell us about ‘art’ ”.  Presented at the 11th International Conference on Neuroesthetics, “Seeing and Knowing, Vision, Knowledge, Cognition, and Aesthetics”  sponsored by the Minerva Foundation at the University of California (Berkeley), USA.

Hodgson, D. 2015 (November 11th). The evolutionary significance of art.  Presented at the 5th    Porto Alegre Biological Evolution Workshop, Dept of Genetics, Institute of Biosciences, Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Hodgson, D. 2016 (March 30th). Visual Perception, Emotion, and Palaeolithic Art. Presented at the “Art, symbolism and emotional expression in the Palaeolithic workshop”. Dept. of Archaeology, King’s Manor, University of York, UK.

Hodgson, D. 2016 (April 5th). Renfrew’s Paradox and Material Engagement.  Presented at the Interactiong Minds Centre, Aarhus University, Denmark.

Hodgson, D. 2016 (November 25th). What can the Psychology of Perception and Visual Neuroscience tell us about Palaeolithic Art?  Presented as a seminar to the Department of Psychology and Department of Archaeology at Durham University.

Hodgson, D. 2-16  (December 9th)  What can the Psychology of Perception and Visual Neuroscience tell us about Palaeolithic Art? Presented to the Palaeolithic Art group, Department of Archaeology, Kings Manor, University of York.


Workshops Attended

Hodgson, D. 2007 (April). Conference/workshop on innovation and evolution at the Department of Archaeology, Southampton University.


Conference Coordination

Co-chair of colloquia “The Pleistocene Palaeoart of the World” at UISPP XV International World  Congress (4-9th Sept. 2006) Lisbon, Portugal.

Conference advisory committee “Archaeological Invisibility and Forgotten Knowledge. Ethnoarchaeology, Hunter-gatherers, Ephemeral cultural aspects” (5-8 Sept. 2007). Lódz University, Poland.

Conference facilitator for “Origins of Pictures” at Technische Universität Chemnitz, Chemnitz, Germany. (30th March – 1st April. 2011).


Book reviews

Hodgson, D. 2005. “Waking the Trance Fixed” by P. A. Helvenston and P. Bahn.

(Wasteland Press). In Rock Art Research.  2006, 23 (2) p. 270.

Hodgson, D. 2010. “The Artificial Ape” by Timothy Taylor. (Palgrave Macmillan). In Times Higher Education. 21st Oct, 2010.

Hodgson, D. 2011. “Starting from Scratch: The Origin and Development of Expression, Representation and Symbolism in Human and Non-Human Primates” by John Matthews (Psychology Press). In Times Higher Education. 26th May,2011.

Hodgson, D. 2014. “On the origin of the human mind” by Andrey Vyshedkiy (Mobile Reference. 2nd edition). 


Referee and Reviewer for:

Current Anthropology




MDPI journals

Rock Art Research

Internet Archaeology

Adaptive Behaviour

The Leakey Foundation


Media Interest

Interview with Taylor Burns quoted in Cosmos science magazine (8th Nov 2011) in article “Leopard print horse DNA sheds light on cave painting”

Interview with Taylor Burns in Nature Education by SCITABLE (Nov 11th, 2011) “On cognitive palaeontology and the infamous 'spotted' horse”.

Interview with New Scientist on the spotted horses of Pech Merle  (2011) (unpublished)

Interview with BBC regarding cave art (2014) (unpublished)


Leading seminars and lecturing.

Advising and mentoring undergraduates, MA, and PhD students.

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Contact details

Derek Hodgson
2 Belle Vue Street
YO10 5AY

Tel: (44) 01904 633834