46-256 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Oliver Sacks, Brain Damage, Ethology
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September 9, 2014
Intro to Brain and Human Behaviour
Evolution and Genetics
There is a tendency to think in simple dichotomies when explaining behaviour
Is it physiological based or psychological?
Is behaviour inherited or learned?
Is it physiological or psychological?
•Descartes argued that the universe consists of two elements (aka “Cartesian dualism”)
◦human mind (soul, self, or spirit)
•Cartesian dualism views the mind and brain as separate entities
Problems with Traditional Dichotomies- Mind-brain Dualism
•Brain damage has an impact on psychological functioning
•Oliver Sack's case study of a man with asomatognosia : man woke up not realizing that his leg
was his own leg, due to a stroke in the back right portion of his brain which messed up his
though process of awareness of his body in space.
•Gallup's research on chimp self-awareness (red marks on chimps faces in a room with a mirror)
An A in-front of a neurological condition means absence of.
Is it inherited or is it learned?
•“Nature vs Nurture”
•Watson- father of behaviourism- believed that all behaviour was the product of learning
•Ethology- the study of animal behaviour in the wild – focused on instinctive behaviours,
Problems with Traditional Dichotomies- Nature or Nurture
•Many factors have an impact on behaviour other than genetics (nature) or learning (nurture)
•Nurture now encompasses learning and environment
•While it is generally accepted that behaviour is a product of nature and nurture, many still ask
how much is determined by each
•But genetic and experiential factors do not merely combine in an additive fashion
A Model of the Biology of Behaviour
•Behaviour is the product of the interaction of three factors:
◦Perception of the current situation
•Darwin was not the 1st to propose that species evolve, but he was the 1st to compile supporting
evidence and to suggest how evolution works
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