HAS MONEY TRANSFORMED OUR BRAINS? A GLIMPSE INTO STONE-AGE NEUROECONOMICS

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Monetary exchanges supported by coins appeared less than 3000 years ago in Lydia. They don’t resort to an evolutionary temporal scale of human brain development as determined by long interaction with natural environments. Yet, we can hypothesize, in the light of several behavioral and brain-imaging experiments, that these eminently cultural artifacts, coins, have established specific neural con-nections with otherwise evolutionary shaped functional brain areas. This is docu-mented by a seemingly fast and automatic processing of coin monetary validity in the posterior fusiform gyrus, a ventral stream area functionally dedicated to the automatic decoding of ecological items such as human faces and food. This type of evidence triggers a discussion on two accounts. It leads us to reconsider how short-term functional neural adaptations to cultural environments predate long-term neurobiological evolution. Finally, potentially providing new insights on Sahlins’ hypotheses about the anthropological emergence of economic activities, it anchors our modern economic behavior and environment into a natural history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-184
Number of pages20
JournalAnnals of the Fondazione Luigi Einaudi
Volume55
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Casa Editrice Leo S. Olschki. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Coins
  • Cultural Cortical Recycling
  • Cultural Neurosci-ence
  • Economic Anthropology
  • Marshall Sahlins
  • Money

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (all)

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