What can biology tell us about human sexual behavior? What kinds of releasing stimuli lead to sexual behavior? What is the effect of pheromones, hormones, genes and our evolutionary history upon our behavior? Robert Sapolsky discusses these issues and more in a broad biological survey of human behavior that starts with an ethologists attention to understanding the behavior itself and then examines the full timeline of biological factors that lead to the behavior from the most proximal (closest) to the most distal (furthest) factors: neurology, releasing stimuli, acute and chronic hormonal situation, cultural factors, perinatal biology and environment, genetics, and the evolutionary and environmental influences.
This discussion is based on 2½ Robert Sapolsky videos totaling 4 hours of lectures. Watching the videos and reading my notes are optional, but the material is so fascinating that I invite you to delve into it and explore it more deeply noting any questions that occur to you.
Human Sexual Behavior I (1h 40m video). In this video Sapolsky introduces his approach to comprehensively explore the biology of sexual behavior. After the introduction he explores big picture issues including the scientific approach to discussing sexual behavior and the challenges of the science. Then he explores what is unique about human sexual behavior in the animal kingdom. Then he discusses the neurobiology of sex followed by its endocrinology (hormonal system). At the end he begins discussing the releasing stimuli for sexual behavior. The rest of that discussion continues in the next video. Read my extensive notes summarizing Sapolsky's discussion.
Human Sexual Behavior II (1h 40m video). In this video Sapolsky continues with the discussion about releasing stimuli for sexual behavior. Then he discusses perinatal factors, genetic effects, and the evolutionary history of human sexual behavior. Along the way we learn more about the biology of homosexuality and transexuality. Is each of us intersexual? Read my extensive notes summarizing Sapolsky's discussion.
Human Sexual Behavior III (the first 52m of a 1h 35m video). In the first half of this video, Sapolsky concludes the discussion of the evolutionary history of human sexual behavior. Read my extensive notes summarizing Sapolsky's discussion.
This topic is a repeat of the one on Sunday March 9th.
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) is based on a commencement speech Sapolsky delivered. 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. There were three discussions on "Brain Science and Human Behavior" which covered videos 10-14 of the course on 12 Jan 2014, 18 Jan 2014, and 2 Feb 2014.