Is a cultural cortical recycling hypothesis likely in relation to economic artifacts?

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Neuroscience of material artifacts production and handling has recently pointed to the likeliness of a cultural cortical recycling hypothesis (Stout et al., 2008). This hypothesis had been more robustly established in the case of symbolic artifacts such as letters and numbers (Dehaene and Cohen, 2007). In both cases the idea is that specific cortical maps dedicated to basic perceptual and/or motor functions were re-used at some point of relatively recent human history (within temporal scales at which anatomical evolutions of the brain cannot take place) in view of the processing of novel cultural items. Optimal functional recycling jointly facilitates and carries over constraints on the processing of these artifacts. It also presumably plays a role in their emergence and morphogenesis. I present theoretical arguments and a preliminary set of behavioral and neurobiological data that might support the speculation that the historical emergence and the typical neural processing of coins-both a material and symbolic artifact which is central for modern economic life-are explained by a similar hypothesis.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)504-512
Number of pages9
JournalTranslational Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Coins
  • Cultural cortical recycling
  • Fusiform gyrus
  • Money emergence
  • Tools

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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