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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2008 Jun 12;363(1499):2041-7. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0010.

Neuroscience, evolution and the sapient paradox: the factuality of value and of the sacred.

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  • McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3ER, UK. acr10@cam.ac.uk


The human genome, and hence the human brain at birth, may not have changed greatly over the past 60000 years. Yet many of the major behavioural changes that we associate with most human societies are very much more recent, some appearing with the sedentary revolution of some 10000 years ago. Among these are activities implying the emergence of powerful concepts of value and of the sacred. What then are the neuronal mechanisms that may underlie these consistent, significant (and emergent) patterns of behaviour?

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