Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. SapolskyWhy do we do the things we do?
More than a decade in the making, this game-changing book is Robert Sapolskys genre-shattering attempt to answer that question as fully as perhaps only he could, looking at it from every angle. Sapolskys storytelling concept is delightful but it also has a powerful intrinsic logic: he starts by looking at the factors that bear on a persons reaction in the precise moment a behavior occurs, and then hops back in time from there, in stages, ultimately ending up at the deep history of our species and its evolutionary legacy.
And so the first category of explanation is the neurobiological one. A behavior occurs--whether an example of humans at our best, worst, or somewhere in between. What went on in a persons brain a second before the behavior happened? Then Sapolsky pulls out to a slightly larger field of vision, a little earlier in time: What sight, sound, or smell caused the nervous system to produce that behavior? And then, what hormones acted hours to days earlier to change how responsive that individual is to the stimuli that triggered the nervous system? By now he has increased our field of vision so that we are thinking about neurobiology and the sensory world of our environment and endocrinology in trying to explain what happened.
Sapolsky keeps going: How was that behavior influenced by structural changes in the nervous system over the preceding months, by that persons adolescence, childhood, fetal life, and then back to his or her genetic makeup? Finally, he expands the view to encompass factors larger than one individual. How did culture shape that individuals group, what ecological factors millennia old formed that culture? And on and on, back to evolutionary factors millions of years old.
The result is one of the most dazzling tours dhorizon of the science of human behavior ever attempted, a majestic synthesis that harvests cutting-edge research across a range of disciplines to provide a subtle and nuanced perspective on why we ultimately do the things we do...for good and for ill. Sapolsky builds on this understanding to wrestle with some of our deepest and thorniest questions relating to tribalism and xenophobia, hierarchy and competition, morality and free will, and war and peace. Wise, humane, often very funny, Behave is a towering achievement, powerfully humanizing, and downright heroic in its own right.
The Chemical Mind: Crash Course Psychology #3
Behavior’s Influence on Biology
By Saul McLeod , updated The biological approach believes us to be as a consequence of our genetics and physiology. It is the only approach in psychology that examines thoughts, feelings, and behaviors from a biological and thus physical point of view. Therefore, all that is psychological is first physiological. A biological perspective is relevant to the study of psychology in three ways:. Comparative method : different species of animal can be studied and compared. This can help in the search to understand human behavior.
E-mail: ed. The human brain is the most complex of all biological organs; it not only gives rise to consciousness—that most fascinating but elusive phenomenon—but also mediates our behavioural responses. The structure of the brain and its higher cognitive functions are the product of evolutionary history, embedded within the genome. One of the great scientific challenges today is therefore to integrate the results from two different lines of investigation into the biology of behaviour—using genes and the brain—with the goal of bringing both to a deeper level of understanding. Modern biology has taught us how genes and genomes serve as blueprints for all living organisms.
Far from being merely the domain of medicine or sociology, it is a new discipline being forged through the fusion of biotechnology, psychology, physiology, and political and social science. In the future, no single scholarly field will flourish without interrelationships with others. Brooks is to be commended for recognizing the value of interdisciplinarity. Linda Charnes Bloomington, Ind. To the Editor:.
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One of the basic tenets of psychological science holds that the biology of our brains heavily influences our actions, behaviors, judgments, and more. But what if we reverse that premise and examine an opposite supposition: that our choices and decisions may influence our physical neural structure? -