Crime and punishment: Neurobiological roots of modern justice

Neuroscientists have proposed the first neurobiological model for third-party punishment. It outlines a collection of potential cognitive and brain processes that evolutionary pressures could have re-purposed to make this behavior possible.

 

“The concepts of survival of the fittest or the selfish gene that the public generally associates with evolution are incomplete,” said René Marois, associate professor of psychology at Vanderbilt, who co-authored the paper with Joshua Buckholtz, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard. “Prosociality — voluntary behavior intended to benefit other people even when they are not kin — does not necessarily confer genetic benefits directly on specific individuals but it creates a stable society that improves the overall survival of the group’s offspring.”