Brain Science and Human Behavior (second repeat)

I will be hosting a second repeat of this meetup on Sunday, Feb 2nd. It will be based on the first two but the focus may be slightly different. Details to follow. The original description is below.

Joe N.

How does the emotional brain (the so-called limbic system) work? Is there a rational part of the brain or are we all emotional creatures? Why does every excitatory center in the limbic system seem to have an inhibitory center to counterbalance it? What is the evidence in support of the James-Lang theory of emotions, namely, that the state of your body tells the brain what to feel? If a human brain consists of about 100 billion neurons each with about 10,000 connections (known as synapses) which communicate to each other by pumping neurotransmitters stored in vesicles into the gap between neurons, why are our brains not completely awash in noise and misfirings and confusion? How can individual differences and diverse responses to experience manifest in the working of the brain? Where are concepts & categories stored in the brain? What are the difficulties and challenges in studying the brain?

This discussion is based on a 1½ hour video lecture called "Limbic System" from Robert Sapolsky's free on-line course "Human Behavioral Biology" (although the course is introductory in nature and concerns a vitally important subject, this lecture gets a little bit technical at times. Understanding the details is not important, instead I recommend listening to get a sense of the big picture). The video depends on four lectures that introduce some high-level but technical details of Brain Science including the basics of neuroscience and endocrinology.

• The Limbic System. You may be able to follow this video without first watching the four supplemental videos below, but it assumes some familiarity with neuroendocrinology. During the discussion, I will try to explain anything you could not understand during the discussion (although I am not a neuroscientist I have watched each video twice and I've taken extensive notes). Read my notes on Sapolsky's limbic system video. Here are the notes of "a Sapolsky fan" on the limbic system.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAOnSbDSaOw


Background Videos: These videos explain basic ideas about the neuroendocrine system that constitutes modern brain science from the perspective of Human Behavior. Understanding Sapolsky's video on the Limbic System will be significantly improved if you watch these videos first:

• Introduction to Neuroscience IMy notes on the Neuroscience I video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5031rWXgdYo

• Introduction to Neuroscience IIMy notes on the Neuroscience II video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqU9lmFztOU

• EndocrinologyMy notes on the Endocrinology video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yETVsV4zfFw

• Advanced Neurology and EndocrinologyMy notes on Sapolsky's advanced neuroendocrinology video. The notes of "a Sapolsky fan" on advanced neuroendocrinology.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAfz0yAcOyQ


This topic is a repeat from the one on Sun 12 Jan.

I have led several prior discussions on Robert Sapolsky whose descriptions (and videos) you may enjoy. The Uniqueness and Evolution of Humans (15 Apr 2012) which is based on a Sapolsky lecture. The other discussions have been based on Sapolsky's course BIO 250, HUMBIO 160: Human Behavioral Biology. There were two discussions on "The Evolutionary and Genetic Bases of Human Behavior" which covered videos 2-7 of the course on  14 Jul 2013 and 27 Jul 2013, two discussions on "The Biology of Learning" which covered videos 8 & 9 of the course on 10 Nov 2013 and 30 Nov 2013.



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  • Lynn

    It looks like my bus rolls in at 10:20 so I will have to run to make the event and may run a little late.

    1 · January 31

    • Joe N.

      Deborah - sorry I haven't responded to your initial message. Given the circumstances you were dealing with, it's OK. We generally frown upon last-minute cancellations, but we are reasonable. Your situation was a genuine emergency. I'm glad the fire turned out to be minor. We look forward to seeing you at another meetup soon.

      February 4

    • Deborah

      Thanks very much Joe. I appreciate hearing from you and am glad you understand. Take care.

      February 4

  • Jean S.

    Excellent variety of opinions. I love the discussions on Sunday mornings...

    February 4

  • Deborah

    Psychology has evolved so much since I graduated college.The availability of interdisciplinary subjects to undergraduate students was virtually nil in the late 70s, even though I went to a college with one of the best psych depts. in the country. I have read many fine books in the area of human behavior (not self-help) but I'm embarrassed to say that the semi-scholarly books on brain science (e.g., Steven Pinker and Antonio Damasio) have been left on my bookshelf only partially read and now forgotten. I loved Sapolsky's book "Why Zebra's Don't Get Ulcers," which is fascinating and very readable (concerns stress). And I've heard Sapolsky lecture twice -- he is a great speaker with a wonderful sense of humor. So I definitely need education in the area of the upcoming talk. I have to finish listening to the lectures but can't wait for the real talk on Sunday. Thanks. Can't wait to meet the group. This will be my first Meetup.

    January 31

    • pam b.

      As a teacher, I am interested in the science of learning - what is predisposed in our DNA and what we can influence. I have listened to and participated in lectures on the amygdala and predisposed behaviors. Similary, I know, from experience, that the Limbic System is influenced by experiences. I teach 5th grade, and know that it is a "tipping point" - critical age for self-image; social inclinations; role models, and a plethora of other influences.

      February 3

  • A former member
    A former member

    My sincere apologies to the group for missing this Meetup. Had some medical issues arise Sunday morning.

    February 3

  • Patty

    Joe and Jyoti, Thank you for all of your work, it was a terrific discussion!

    1 · February 2

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi, I'm Jake

    February 1

  • Rami C.

    I have been so looking forward to this discussion but I have a scheduling conflict.

    February 1

  • Jean S.

    Although I don't have the date yet, I am preparing for a discussion on: DNA - past, present, and future. The focus will be on personal experiences versus tedious technical information about DNA. Genealogy, medical implications, and the future direction of a multitude of possibilities will be discussed.

    February 1

  • Seham

    Is there any chance to the waiting list to move before Sunday or not ? I am really interested to be in this group :)

    January 31

  • Joe N.

    One thing I think it would be interesting to discuss is the James-Lang theory of emotion (see about the 1:13:30 point in the limbic system video). It claims that emotions do not originate as mental experiences to which the body reacts. Rather they are primarily physiological reactions that our conscious mind then interprets to decide which emotion we're feeling. Wikipedia also has a good summary of the theory, as well as some good refutations:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ja­...;­

    See also CJ's notes on the limbic system video (the part on the James-Lang theory is toward the end):

    https://plus.google.com/10422246­...­

    January 30

    • Jyoti M.

      Meditation and biofeedback are great examples of James Lange theory . Both cause physiological reactions in hypothalamus .

      January 30

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