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Skene, Pate

Sr Research Associate


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research overview

  • I study the evolution of cognitive mechanisms and related parts of the human brain that have made it possible for humans to live and work in large, complex societies. My colleagues and I use functional brain imaging to study how people combine evidence and biases or cultural beliefs to make decisions, especially in adversarial settings like a legal trial or policy debate. We use molecular genomics to trace how the brain regions involved in those decisions have changed over the course of human evolution. A particular interest is in changes that may reflect adaptations to the cognitive demands brought on by the increasing size and diversity of human societies over thousands of years. My legal interests are in the uses (and potential misuses) of scientific evidence in litigation and regulatory decisions.


  • cooperation, conflict, brain evolution, evidence law


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