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Did Meditating Make Us Human?

  • Matt J. Rossano (a1)

Abstract

Campfire rituals of focused attention created Baldwinian selection for enhanced working memory among our Homo sapiens ancestors. This model is grounded in five propositions: the emergence of symbolism occurred late in the archaeological record; this emergence was caused by a fortuitous genetic mutation that enhanced working memory capacity; a Baldwinian process where genetic adaptation follows somatic adaptation was the mechanism for this emergence; meditation directly affects brain areas critical to attention and working memory; and shamanistic healing rituals were fitness-enhancing in our ancestral past. Each proposition is discussed and defended. Supporting evidence and potential future tests are presented.

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