Biology 202
Neurobiology and Behavior
Spring 2004

Forum 1

Name:  Paul Grobstein
Subject:  getting started
Date:  2004-01-06 16:30:12
Message Id:  7591
Welcome to the Bio 202 course forum area. This is an interestingly different kind of place for writing, and may take some getting used to, but I hope you'll come to value it as much as students in other courses have.

The first thing to keep in mind is that this isn't a place for "formal writing" or "finished thoughts". Its a place for thoughts-in-progress, for what you're thinking (whether you know it or not) on your way to what you think next. Maybe simpler, imagine that you're not worrying about "writing" but instead that you're just talking to some people you've met. This is a "conversation" place, a place to find out what you're thinking yourself, and what other people are thinking, so you can help them think and they can help you think. The idea is that your "thoughts in progress" can help others with their thinking, and theirs can help you with yours.

So who are you writing for? For yourself, and for others in our classes primarily. But also for the world. This is a "public" forum, so people anywhere on the web might look in (and might even add their own thoughts in progress, though that doesn't in fact often happen).

That's the second thing to keep in mind here. You're writing for yourself, for others in the class, AND for others you might or might not know. So, your thoughts in progress can contribute to the thoughts in progress of LOTS of people, particularly if you do the best you can to be clear to lots of different people. The web is giving increasing reality to the idea that there can actually evolve a world community, and you're part of helping to bring that about. Glad to have you along, and hope you value/enjoy sharing the activity.

To get things started, how about a few thoughts about what you particularly bring to this conversation? What kinds of background/experiences/perspectives do you have that might be different from those of others in the course, and so provide insights that might be useful to them? On the flip side, what particular questions/curiousities/puzzlements are you bringing to the course that might help to challenge the thinking of others and shape the directions we take?

Remember, no "formal writing", no long essays, and no "last words". Just a few sentences, a few thoughts to help get the conversation started. Why should one study "neurobiology and behavior"? What do you think you know about it at the outset and why? And what would you like to know that you don't and why not?

Name:  Dana Bakalar
Date:  2004-01-19 08:43:30
Message Id:  7619
Neurobiology, studying the brain, is the only way to understand human behaviors, thoughts, and motivations, minus putting it all down to a diety and forgetting about it. Its how we examine what conciousness is, what seperates humans from animals- type or degree? or is there a seperation?

I think this course examines a lot of controversial and unanswered questions within the frame work of the physical brain. How is the phisical brain linked to the mental self?
I would like to delve into the nature of conciousness, of what constitutes a person. Are animals people? can they be? or personalities at least? is there some level of complexity in brain tissue required to make something a person? if so, what level? is it a hard line or a spectrum?

Name:  Brad Corr
Date:  2004-01-19 20:38:26
Message Id:  7623
Although we have yet to attend our first class, I feel I can safely say I can provide a unique "voice" to our conversations. 1) I am a male 2) I am a postbac. I have already graduated from college and spent some time out in "the real world." I have chosen to come back to school for the better part of my life and become a physician. In my future studies I know I will study the biological connections of the nervous system and study much of the latest research of the mind. I would like to get a start on this and solidify a nice base of knowledge in an anotomical and biological perspective. However, I am not just curious in what is happening, but why it is happening. Human behavior and the mind are highly evolved and it is interesting to me to find out the connections between the physical and psychological processes occuring.
Name:  Chelsea Phillips
Subject:  Hello world
Date:  2004-01-19 21:35:16
Message Id:  7624
It's an interesting question, what experiences have you had that will enable you to bring a "unique" perspective to this course- I think the best answer is that we are all here. We're cognizant, we've been living in the world- experiencing it in and through our neurobiological makeup, reacting to, behaving instinctively (or perhaps not?) to those people and things around us which make up our "reality."

As far as I go on an individual basis; well, I'm not planning to pursue a path which would typically require a neurobiology course (in an academic sense)- but maybe that's an oversight. The very fact that I do, in fact, have a brain and do, in fact, enjoy using it would seem to me excellent qualifications. Beyond that, I enjoy classes structured around engaging with others both in and out of the classroom, and think learning for learning sake is always best.


Name:  Elissa Seto
Date:  2004-01-19 23:39:11
Message Id:  7625
What I can contribute to Bio 202:
1) My ideas/views/opinions/beliefs. I'm usually not intimidated to say something in class, even if it goes against the tide of the general opinion.
2) Some science background. I'm a pre-med bio major and I've worked in a research lab studying genetics, including a lot of genetics that were related to neurobiology.

I love classes with lots of discussions, especially discussions that involve different points of view. I don't know how this may play into our discussions, but often times at Bryn Mawr, I feel as though people shun conservative points of view and the liberals dominate the conversation.

I'm excited about the things we may learn in class, like why some people feel and express emotion differently, or to touch on recent cases, the Teri Shiavo incident and what was the neurobiological reasons for why people argued that she was or was not in a permanent vegetative state.

Cheers to a good class,

Name:  Liz Powell
Date:  2004-01-20 00:55:45
Message Id:  7627
My first interest in neurobiology and behavior came when I read the book Descartes' Error in my CSEM class. In this book, the author incorporates biology, psychology, and philosophy to explore the relationship between mind and body. After reading this book by Dr. Antonio Damasio, I wanted to explore further this relationship. I see this class as an opportunity to explore questions in a discussion format and also learn some science behind what we will be discussing. This neurobiology and behavior class offers the integration of multiple disciplines that as a biology major and philosophy minor, I usually explore separately.
Name:  Amanda Glendinning
Date:  2004-01-20 08:56:52
Message Id:  7631
A few years ago I spent a summer at Cambridge and one of the classes I took was about the Brain and Behavior. While I wasn't too interested in the technical side of the class, the philosophical side was quite interesting. Then when I read about this class, I thought it would be a good addendum to what I have already learned. The unique thing about the class I took before, is that it was in England. Science, and most subjects, are approached differently there, so this will supplement and complement what we are addressing here.
I'm looking forward to the class and what everyone else will have to say. I think one of the most important things is that we all come from different backgrounds, but we've all experienced part of Bryn Mawr's environment, which ties us together as well. It will create a unique combination that always provides some interesting discussion.
Name:  Natalie Merrill
Subject:  Initial Post
Date:  2004-01-20 09:42:08
Message Id:  7633
Why should one study 'neurobiology and behavior?' I think any social scientist as well as biologist is concerned with these phenomena. As long as we have developed intelligent inquiry we have been interested in discovering the link between the mind and body, between the society and brain. What connects our external world to the scientific processes going on in our brain? The fact that we have known so little about the causes and exact brain functions has led us to be quite philosophical about the nature of thought. This is why I am interested in studying neuriobiology and behavior. Our history of and ideas about how those things are connected vastly indicactive of our notions of humanity and science. It is tremendously important to understand these things in order to make sense of the world around us.
Name:  Debbie Hana Yi
Subject:  Trauma and Memory
Date:  2004-01-20 11:31:39
Message Id:  7635
I'm a postbac, and I'm really excited to be a part of our discussions over the next 4 months. After spending the past year working on the redevelopment and revitalization of Lower Manhattan after 9/11, I hope to contribute another perspective on behavior following traumatic experiences. In addition, my sister was in a serious accident less than a year ago and has no recollection of the events leading up to and following the accident. I'd like to better understand trauma, memory, and even hypnotism.
Name:  Emily Hayes-Rowan
Subject:  Finally, a class on the brain!
Date:  2004-01-20 12:33:43
Message Id:  7636
I've been captivated by all things brain-y since the sixth grade. I'm so glad to finally be in a class where I have free range to explore everything I've been thinking about since then. Thanks to Dr. Grobstein for giving us so much freedom and responsibility!

Right now, I'm most interested in how the brain gives rise to the mind. How does a mass of specialized cells create the inner and outer realities unique to every individual? And how, at the same time, is there a common reality, the external one, that we all share, when none of us experience or perceive things the same way? It's fascinating and amazing to me that we have no real, direct contact with the external world, that we can experience it only through our nervous system, and so everything is, to a sense, second-hand. We truly do create our realities. The reality of a schitzophrenic is as real to him as the "real" world is to someone "normal."

Along these lines, there are specifics I want to look at this semester: I'm intrigued by color. Since I was little I've wondered whether what I see as "blue" is what you see as "blue." Maybe my "blue" looks like your "purple." I recently read a chapter from Oliver Sacks' book An Anthropologist On Mars about an artist who lost all knowledge of color in a car accident. He didn't just become red/green color blind; he lost all perception, sense, and memory of color. After doing some experiments, Sacks and a colleague deduced that the patient was seeiing in wavelength, but his brain no longer tagged these wavelengths with color. It was a fscinating story. I'm also interested in the neural.biological basis of spirituality: the fact that as humans, we are wired to seek meaning. What does this mean for religion? Is God a lie if our search for meaning is biologically inherent? Or did a Divine Being create us and just hardwire us to seek Him/Her/It? I'd love to debate this, so if you have any ideas, please post them!

Name:  Hannah Messkoub
Subject:  meditation for the mind?
Date:  2004-01-20 12:54:32
Message Id:  7637
I am interested in neurobiology- but my background is in politic science and fine arts. I am interested in the effects of meditation on the mind and learning the different ares of the brain that can be consciously stimulated. (I practise Vipassana meditation and am interested in the neurological effects it may have on an individual.)
At this point, I have many more questions than answers that I can contribute to class discussions and am eager to learn more from others that do have a biology background.

I focus on the culture, politics, and languages of the Middle East- but would like to broaden my academic horizons...

Name:  Kimberley Knudson
Subject:  Reasoning and Functioning
Date:  2004-01-20 13:59:16
Message Id:  7641
The cerebral cortex and reasoning ability has made it so humans do not have to adapt to their surrounds but can manipulate their surrounds to better suit them. How is that this grey matter can separate us so distinctly from any other known being?

I am interested in environmental factors that can cause brain damage over short periods of time such as asphyxia, and things that can impair brain functioning such as sleep deprivation.

I am also fascinated by the unconscious movements our body performs, as I type this I am not consciously focusing on what key I am pressing yet I can form typed words and sentences with no perceptible effort. However someone with Cerebral Palsy might find this activity very challenging if not impossible. I am often amazed at the complexity of the central nervous system and the way, despite all the things that can go wrong, most of the population functions with little or no difficulty. I am excited to learn about all of the intricacies of the brain and it's control of behavior in higher-level thought processing as well as motor functioning.

There is also a website that I find very easy to use. It provides basic brain anatomy and function.

Name:  Jean Yanolatos
Subject:  Rambling about neurobiology
Date:  2004-01-20 16:41:39
Message Id:  7643
WARNING: this contains endless rambling about research I did so feel free to skip over my long explanations because I tend to write a lot about it due to the fact it was the main part of my life for two years.

I feel that I can add an unique approach to some of the topics that might come up in class mainly because of my past experiences. I conducted research at Columbia University for two years on the gamma secretase complex. This complex is known to be a key factor in the formation of neurotoxic amyloid beta-42 and the amyloid beta-42 forms the senile plaques associated with familial Alzheimer's Disease. Specifically, I transfected :

a known component of the gamma secretase complex(presenilin 1 placed into a red fluorescent protein, four forms of a gene[APH-1 in a green fluorescent protein ( there are two variations APH-1a and APH-1b that were used,but I also used mutants of these two variations which had a glycine residue changed to aspartate)] that was thought to be in the complex, and another gene that was at that time questioned about its involvement(PEN-2, which was not ligated to a fluorescent marker)

into cells in different combinations and than used a microscope that could detect fluorescence emitted from the fluorescent proteins in order to determine if the components that were transfected into the cells were colocalized, which would implicate that they formed a unified structure, or if the components had shifted from the ER/golgi apparatus area, which would have suggested that a complex had been formed or maybe even that the components combined to form the gamma secretase complex if they migrated to the plasma membrane. There were many other steps used in this experiment [such as subcloning(which took forever)in order to place the components used into fluorescent proteins, and performing a western blot using the transfected cells in order to be sure I was expressing certain proteins] and all of these experiments along with reading previous journals concerning the topic took much of my time and dedication, but it created my passion for understanding the molecular processes that cause neurological diseases and disorders. I want to take this course in order to increase my understanding of neurobiology before I go back to conducting research on familial Alzheimer's during my college years and hopefully as a profession one day.
By conducting this research I have gained a background in some molecular neurobiology topics and also techniques that can be used to further inquire about the molecular and cellular nature of neurological diseases and disorders. Being in this class I hope not only the bring my previous knowledge to our discussions, but also to learn more about what behavior is typical of people with certain neurological disorders/diseases and maybe even correalate the steps in behavioral changes with the changes that can be seen on the molecular level.

Name:  Kristen Coveleskie
Subject:  initial posting
Date:  2004-01-20 16:49:58
Message Id:  7644
I have a little background in both biology and psychology and I have always been very interested in where the two subjects overlap. I am quite interested in how the physicality of the brain affects us as unique individuals. How do all of these neurons lead to complex thought processes? I am also interested in how our thoughts affect us physically. What is the significance of a psychosomatic illness? Although there is probably no finite answer to my questions, I hope that studying neurobiology and behavior will help me to develop a clearer, more informed opinion.
Name:  Sarah Caldwell
Subject:  Questions for this course
Date:  2004-01-20 18:26:02
Message Id:  7645
Hello all!

Usually my interests in biology lie in the technical aspects of how the body works and not in how it relates to society and behavior. Recently however, that changed. My sister is a pyschology major and has been studying and researching pain. After reading her paper (she made me) I really became interested in how pain is perceived in different individuals. More specifically, how different individuals perceive identical pain stimuli to different degrees. In addition, I have recently learned that there are studies (though not many) that study the effect of mental outlook on recovering from injury, illness or other trauma. One study at UPenn examined the difference in immune activity between optimists and pessimists, finding that optimists have a better immune system activity than do pessimists. I think it would be worthwhile to investigate these findings further, and I look forward to doing so.


Name:  Nicole Wood
Subject:  Areas of Interest
Date:  2004-01-20 19:16:25
Message Id:  7647
One of the concepts I would like to learn more about while taking this course is how people perceive their bodies and what factors influence this perception. To be more specific, I'm particularly interested in the way both men and women are affected by eating disorders and how other anxieties (like Body Dismorphic Disorder) are caused by how people perceive themselves. I think it is interesting that while body image issues affect both men and women, often, it seems that women struggle with these types of problems more frequently (or at least their struggles with these issues are more discussed) than men.
Name:  Amar Patel
Subject:  ideaz
Date:  2004-01-20 19:40:19
Message Id:  7648

Hello reader,

Neurobiology and behavior...My studies in both biology & philosophy provides an excellent background with which to bridge the gap between the subjects. I feel as though both subjects are moving to a similar understanding and that understanding stems from the brain. In my first course on neuroscience, psych 101, I came to realize that the deeper we look into the brain the farther we fall into its labyrinth. This idea of a labyrinth can be exemplified by our lack of correlation between neuron synapses and human emotion. Although it is true that Neuroscience is very advanced and has mapped out the function behind structures in the brain, this work is limited to basic movement, and/or memory loss.

After combining Descartes philosophy and this "emergence principle" of biology (idea that feeling and thought comes from a collection of nerve cells), I am left still trying to gather physical evidence for the Cartesian dualism developed by Descartes. For those not familiar with this notion of Cartesian dualism it can be simplified to the idea that every human being is a mind and body. It was the use of this theory that led Descartes to meditate to the point of "cogito ergo sum" (I think, I am). Hopefully this course and its relevant research/discussion can provide a clearer basis for Descartes' ideas.

Name:  Amy Gao
Subject:  neurobio
Date:  2004-01-20 20:44:03
Message Id:  7650
Hi all,

Up to this point in my academic life, I have almost always been solely exposed to the physiology part of the nervous system. I would like to know more about the human behavior in the context of being influenced by the NS. It will be very interesting to engage in discussions with people from other disciplines and hear different voices.

Name:  K. Schwalbe
Subject:  welcome post
Date:  2004-01-20 21:52:49
Message Id:  7651
Hi all - I'm also excited about this course and happy for the chance to study in depth some of the subjects that interest me. One thing I'd like to study this semester is the "Mozart effect" - whether listening to classical music (or other kinds of music) can really affect other areas of the brain and subsequent behaviour as well as the overall effects of music on the brain. I've been playing musical instruments forever and also have taken some of the basic bio courses and it should be great to combine them. I'm also a foreign language major and am interested in studying the differences between the way adults and children learn language.
Obviously, the way we learned second and third languages in high school and college is much different than the ways we learn our first language as children.

Some of the ideas others have put out in class today and on the forum also sound fascinating, and i'm looking forward to learning from the rest of you as well.

Name:  Ghazal Zekavat
Subject:  neurobio interests
Date:  2004-01-20 22:07:42
Message Id:  7652
Although I am a Biology major, I have yet to formally study anything in the realm of neurobiology and behavior. While browsing serendip, I came across the interactive "seeing more than your eye does" exercise ( I was surprised to see my own blind spot in action! I was even more surprised to see that the human brain actually makes up an image to cover the blind spot. Although I can be aware of my thoughts, I know that my brain is carrying out a lot of functions that I'm utterly unaware of. Furthermore, I am interested in learning about what happens when the brain is unable to carry out a certain function, and the effects that this may have on the individual.

As a human, I think it's hard NOT to be interested in how or why the brain works a certain way, and why animals (especially people) behave as they do.

Name:  Lindsey
Subject:  some thoughts..
Date:  2004-01-20 22:30:03
Message Id:  7657
It seems that the brain and the field of neurobiology is one of our last "frontiers"—so it is appropriate to ask what kind of progress we have made towards understanding how we process experiences, thoughts, emotions, etc. Can we ever truly understand the brain or quantify it on a chemical or biological basis? I'm intrigued by sleep and dreams and how these processes are vital to our personality development as well as our subconscious expression. Also, what is the implication that we have all this extra brain matter that we don't use (as a result of leftover evolutionary adaptations?)—and what would happen if we were able to utilize the entire brain?

Aside from the fact that everyone carries their own unique insights, I've always been interested in finding the overlaps between the abstract and concrete. I'm an English major, but I've taken various science courses as well as philosophy. I think it would be interesting to see if we can find a (necessary) middle ground between the two.
Name:  Eleni Kardaras
Subject:  1st thoughts
Date:  2004-01-20 22:48:40
Message Id:  7659
I am interested in neurobio and behavior in both the contexts of science and education. As a possible future high school teacher, I think it would be interesting to understand how children learn the same material but think about it in different ways. Also, over break, I saw this interesting story on 20/20 or Primetime which showed a person receiving a form from a man behind a desk, filling it out, then returning it to the man behind the desk. The viewer was asked to remember as much about the person filling out the form as possible. While I was concentating on the person filling out the form, I failed to notice that the man behind the desk changed from time to time. That was the trick and most people didn't notice the change even when a man wearing a different colored shirt replaced the original man! I think it would be interesting to discuss the implications of this-- of what you are told to look at or see and what you then in fact see.
Name:  Jenny
Date:  2004-01-20 22:51:27
Message Id:  7661
I'm a bio major, and premed. I think a course that explores the relationship between biology and behavior would be interesting because there is still so much that is unknown. A lot of premed classes seem to have absolute answers, and absolute methods of problem solving and testings. This course appeals to me because it will allow us to think and interact differently while exploring an area of science that still baffles scientists and interests students of all areas of study.
Name:  Ginger Kelly
Subject:  A brief response
Date:  2004-01-20 23:12:49
Message Id:  7664
Greetings All,
I'd like to begin by giving a few tidbits about my background. My current home lies in Alabama, however I'm not really from anywhere. Most of my childhood was spent moving, but it allowed me experience a variety people and perspectives. At Bryn Mawr, I am a biology major/pre-vet. Therefore, I come to this class with a science background and lots of animal experience. My prior knowledge of neurobiology is limited, but am drawn to the subject. The brain is amazing to me-- it is the only organ that is aware of itself after all. The brain allows us to think, to learn. Thereby, I find it to be one's duty to explore how it accomplishes its vast functions.
As far as personal interests in neurobiology and behavior, I would like to know more about human instincts, and how they are related to those of animals. The vet in me prevails in this domain I guess.
Name:  Shirley
Subject:  hello
Date:  2004-01-20 23:15:23
Message Id:  7669
am a psychology major with an NBS concentration, therefore I will be able to contribute many interesting issues that I have been wondering about. It is important to study neurobiology and behavior so we can have the opportunity to understand what is occurring inside our bodies. This will lead to the question of what causes what to occur. Does or physiology cause our behavior or vice versa. The latter sounds like an interesting topic to discuss in class. Maybe the answer is already out there, but I just don't know about it!
I am interested in learning what occurs physiologically when people pray or meditate, since when involved in such actions one immediately relaxes. Further, I am interested in discussing the issues related to consciousness and subconsciousness. How do people differentiate these two phenomenons? How does an individual know that he is in a subconscious state? What happens neurobiologically?
Anyway, I have read most of the postings and this class seems like it is going to be a lot of fun.
Name:  Maria S-W
Date:  2004-01-20 23:23:21
Message Id:  7670
The only thing that I know I bring to the table is a sincere desire to learn more about how the brain works, how the mind processes info and how one can distinguish between the brain and the mind. The brain as an organ is somewhat standard in that every brain is in structure similar to most others. And yet the brain is also the house of the mind, of one's personality and all the things that make us individuals. I suppose I've always been fascinated by the brain. I remember as kid trying to hold an image in my head and then trying to figure out WHERE it was that I was seeing it. I was always fascinated by the idea of our conciousness, our awareness of ourselves, if we think in a specific language, why we couldn't will oursevles not to feel bad, or sick...that sort of thing. My father is a neurologist and was for a time a Medical Prof and I've grown up hearing about the brain. Sadly, as he is a doctor, most of what I hear is all the many many many ways the brain can go wrong, get sick and get hurt and generally malfunction, but it also impressed upon me the fact that there is nothing in our human lives that we feel or sense of touch that is not experienced through our brains. It is where we live more than any physical place our bodies might happen to be. It seems to me that there are few things in the range of human experience that would not be better understood if one had some knowledge of the human mind. I think it's often difficult to grasp that we really ARE our brains. You can switch hearts and livers and god knows what else, but the mind is what makes us unique and what makes us function. It's so strange to think that all the beautiful sights and sounds that we love so much exist only so long as our brains allow them to. At any rate, I would really really really really love to participate in this class, I think it looks great.
Name:  Erica
Date:  2004-01-20 23:32:32
Message Id:  7671
My experience with aspects of neurobiology comes from a psychological perspective, given the courses I've taken in previous years. I guess I am interested in exploring more about the ways in which certain neurological processes relate to the ways in which people percieve situations and the world around them.
Name:  Shadia Bel Hamdounia
Subject:  Brain, Behavior, and Identity
Date:  2004-01-20 23:45:22
Message Id:  7674
I guess I was first awakened to the relationship between brain/behavior/identity a few years ago when a friend I thought I knew inside-out became a paranoid-schizophrenic. Suddenly I became hypersensitive to the behavior/moods of those around me in an attempt to pre-empt their (possibly dangerous) actions. I had never really realized how we use the behavior of those around us as cues (and clues) with which to respond. Your behavior is your identity and if your behavior stems from your brain, are you, simply put, "just" your brain? This question is one I'd like to explore throughout this course.

Over break I started Carl Sagan's book, "Broca's Brain" and was struck by his view on the subject. Sagan finds the preserved brain of Paul Broca (who first discovered that the brain is compartmentalized into functional regions and later located the area responsible for speech) in a dusty jar of formaldehyde, forgotten within the shelves of a French museum. He asks himself, "How much of that man known as Paul Broca can still be found in this jar?"

I found a paraphrased version (not written by me) of Sagan's answer intriguing:
"If you possess a religious nature, the answer is probably "nothing." However, if you follow modern studies of how the brain functions, there is the fascinating thought that since memories seem to be stored in proteins, it may be theoretically possible to "recreate" a dead person by manipulating their memory proteins. Such thoughts could also be used to argue in favor of life after death, in that we live on if our protein patterns live on. The soul of a human could then be considered as a permanent record of these patterns, that are continually updated as a person generates new memories."

Name:  Akudo Ejelonu
Username:  Anonymous
Date:  2004-01-20 23:52:19
Message Id:  7675
I am the type of student who loves to learn new and interesting things, especially on topics that I gave little knowledge on. I am really interested in learning about the how the brain and nervous system responds to drugs and alcohol use and abuse, especially when some people's bodies are able to hand these things than others. I know that illegal drugs (crack, etc) and hardcore alcohol are not good for you, but why is marijuana prescribe as a medicine to some people and why is a galls of wine good for you during dinner. Hopefully I can get more info than just the conventional response of say no to drugs and alcohol.
Name:  Michael Fichman
Date:  2004-01-21 00:11:03
Message Id:  7678
My principal interest in regards to this class is the functionality of behavior and its evolution as such. Behaviors are manifestations of organism function. In aggregate, behaviors can form a personality, a family or a society among other things. I am intrigued by the function of individual behaviors and the aggregate function of a series or group of behaviors. I am also interested in the way that an animal or a person can be merely a conduit for a series of behaviors which may have a grander function, perhaps with an grand evolutionary basis.
I hope that some of my interests can be addressed by the course.
Name:  Erin Okazaki
Date:  2004-01-21 00:34:56
Message Id:  7680
I think that the study of behavior transcends many different academic areas find that the different approaches are very interesting. As an economics major, I love seeing how people's behavior, their preferences, their desires and their reactions, to different situations is characterized in the context of the market system. I am excited about how this class approaches behavior from yet another angle and incorporates a mutual exploration of how behavior is related to nervous system function. I would like to specifically explore how material things -- specifically money -- drive people to irrational behavior. In particular, I find it fascinating how money might have an impact on the nervous system – driving people to such behavioral extremes as murder, suicide, great acts of philanthropy or others. I would find it really interesting to explore the possibly of such a connection and what leads to or occurs during such emotionally driven episodes.
Name:  Millie Bond
Subject:  First Class Comments
Date:  2004-01-21 00:53:28
Message Id:  7681
Like many of the people in this class I am not a biology major. However, this class appeals to me because it approaches topics that are completely relevant to all of our lives. As a political science major I am particularly interested in neurobiology and how it relates to policy making. As Elissa Seto mentioned situations similar to Terri Shiavo's are difficult to solve. I have copied the Philadelphia inquirer's archive of articles on this case if you want more info. I am not very computer savvy so you have to copy the info and put it in your browser.|&p_product=PI&p_theme=realcities&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_text_search-0=Terri%20AND%20Schiavo&s_dispstring=Terri%20Schiavo%20AND%20date(last%20180%20days)&p_field_date-0=YMD_date&p_params_date-0=date:B,E&p_text_date-0=-180qzD&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&xcal_useweights=no

Name:  Chevon Deputy
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  Interest
Date:  2004-01-21 00:57:34
Message Id:  7682
My interest in this course is to become more knowledgeable about the disorders of the brain. Particularly, I want to learn about the causes of epilepsy. By being aware of the causes, I hope to better understand why there are some many different degrees of the disorder. It is also important to examine what steps are taken to treat the epiletic patients. This is just one of the topics I wish to explore in this class.
Name:  Mridula Shankar
Subject:  Personal Response
Date:  2004-01-21 11:32:54
Message Id:  7691
What are the interconnections between mental processes, physical behavior, human experience and environmental conditions? What roles do they play in making us a constantly evolving unique species? What factors determine whether the human mind and body can endure and recover (or not) from trauma and what brings upon post traumatic stress disorders? These are some of the questions I'd like to think about in this course.
In the biology courses I have taken so far I have viewed the human mind and body solely as a unique biologically functional entity. The brain to me is very intriguing. I would like to gain knowledge of it not solely from a neurological perspective but also from a behavioral point of view, enabling me to create links between what goes on in the brain and environment to the way we act, feel, respond, behave and ultimately survive.
Our class is wonderfully diverse in terms of academic backgrounds and interests and I look forward to hearing peoples' perspectives on various topics.
Name:  Mariya Simakova
Subject:  brain and its discontents
Date:  2004-01-21 11:37:15
Message Id:  7692
I first began to be interested in the brain/behavior when my fascination with philosophy and my background in religion led me to become aware of the level of isolation of humans from each other and the world. Our knowledge of the world (as has been mentioned in the forum already) is largely secondhand, and I believe that philosophers and laymen alike are increasingly uncomfortable about it. After all, most of us assume that we share the same reality with other "normal" people around us, and when this assumption is challenged we tend to become frustrated, disoriented, even angry and despairing. Recent Western philosophy and literature alike explore the feelings of alienation that plague the modern civilization (mostly from the perspective of the alienated person himself), but they rarely see this inherent divergence of perspectives as something positive. On the contrary, I have always felt a kind of happiness and perhaps even gratitude for the fact that all of our experiences are distinct from others. My specific interest in Russian philosophy (I am a native Russian speaker) proved to me that there are others who not only share this view but also go well beyond lamenting our differences in finding new ways of defining individuality and its relationship to the world outside.

I am looking forward to exploring this issue from the neurobiological perspective. After all, all philosophy and literature is created by and through this interesting thing, the brain (so is it the brain that becomes uneasy with its own uniqueness? why?). It would be partucularly interesting to observe (to the extent possible) the changes in my own ways of perceiving and comprehending reality as the course progresses. I am also looking forward to exploring the relationship between our consciousness and unconsciousness, of whose dialogue I was dimly aware for as long as I remember. In general, I think that we (the students in this course) will become increasingly more interesting to ourselves and to each other as we go on.

Name:  Sasha Greif
Subject:  background comments
Date:  2004-01-21 12:25:33
Message Id:  7693
As a senior Anthropology major, my primary interest has been the consideration of how people make sense of the world around them. Most of the approaches I have been exposed to have been concerned with how the individual's experience is influenced, or downright constructed, by cultural or social realities. What's more, the current epistemology in Anthropology is that all knowledge is subjective- relativity reigns.

When I go home and talk to my Dad and brother (a sleep specialist and a neuroscience student, respectively) our conversations always get deadlocked in the same place: how much we should attribute to culture vs. "hard-wiring". I don't expect this class to provide me with any conclusive answers to this huge question, but I really would like to have the vocabulary and analytical skills to navigate the question. Hopefully by the end of the semester I won't have to abandon the conversation everytime The Question inevitably arises. Also- I'm currently writing my anthropology thesis on how sensory experiences of place are reflected in cultural works (specifically architecture).

Name:  Aiham Korbage
Subject:  Mind-Body (physiology-psychology)
Date:  2004-01-21 14:34:42
Message Id:  7694
I believe this course will enable me to explore what I am really passionate about: the relationship between human physiology and psychology ... and how they interact to produce disease. This is one of my main interests in persuing a career in medicine (and maybe later psychiatry), and I believe that this class will be a great step before medical school. I hope to learn about the human nervous system and its structure. And from there, I could better understand its effects and interactions with emotions, stress, and the immune system ...
I am very enthusiastic about this !
Name:  Ariel Singer
Subject:  Interests
Date:  2004-01-21 15:01:12
Message Id:  7696
Although I am not majoring in biology, I do love it. When I took Bio 101 and 102 I found that two things were the most interesting to me, one was genetics and the other was the nervous system and neurobiology. I am hoping by taking this class I will be able to expand my knowledge of the topic. This is also especially important to me because I am hoping to focus my major on medicine in Classical times and in Ancient Egypt. One of the truly interesting topics within that focus is how ancient people perceived behavior, and what they believed to cause certain behavioral traits.

If there is time, I would love to learn about how theories on neurobiology and behavior have changed throughout history. I also find how genetics effect our nervous system to be a really interesting topic.
Name:  Tanya Cooper
Date:  2004-01-21 15:51:36
Message Id:  7698
Although I am neither a biology or psychology major, I have always had an interest in how the human brain primarily works. We are such complex individuals because of our bio-chemistry. I have long been fascinated by what motivates us to behave as we do. Why do we have certain likes, dislikes, habits, or vices? Is it truly a combination of the natural and nurtured, or does our neurobiological make up exclusively dictate the outcome of our behaviour. I am especially interested to find out about the links between creativity and depression as well as the role that different parts of the brain contribute to both aspects of the human condition. I have the ability to entertain ideas that I may or may not agree with. I think my open mindedness is what I can contribute to this class.
Name:  Allison
Subject:  Neurobiology
Date:  2004-01-21 16:47:23
Message Id:  7699
I have always been interested in trying to figure out why human beings react differently to similar situations and the fact that different people have a capacity for different things. I am interested in exploring the question of how the human brain helps us function in everyday life with respect to how the workings of our brain affect reactions such as happiness, fear, etc. Although I am a double Art History/Italian major, this is an important topic for anyone in any discipline and will be interesting to explore.
Name:  Katina Krasnec
Subject:  Neurology/Biology/Psychology
Date:  2004-01-22 00:29:14
Message Id:  7707
After looking through the many comments posted by the members of this class, I am pleasantly happy to see how many people are thinking of so many new perspectives in this field, and wanting to expand their own horizons towards understanding of the mind and body, more specifically, neurobiology.

As the daughter of a psychologist and a scientist, I was always caught between the two debates of nature versus nuture in the development of children and behavior. From this, I've gained more then a desire to figure out what truly causes behavioral differences within humans. Also, as a newly developing (Freshman, yes!) science major, my major interests lay in the inner working of humans themselves; genetics and the pyschology of the mind and how the neurological sytems function to make us as people, as successful as we are now. What tiny malfunction of the NS or even brain disorders could have made humans anything but what we are today?

My mother, in attempting to gain her second Ph.D planned to study neurological functions in the brain in relations to mental disorders in patients, and I myself find this extremely fascinating. And with the confliction views I was brought up with, I'm more then able to think on varying perspectives of many issues.

See you Thursday!


Name:  Emma Berdan
Subject:  thoughts on neurobiology
Date:  2004-01-22 08:46:52
Message Id:  7709
It seems like most people in this class are interested in human behavior but I personally am more interested in animal behavior. I think I could contribute to this class by looking more at animal behavior which would provide a nice counterpoint to human behavior. I am interested in both invertebrate and vertebrate behavior and I think both would be interesting to compare with human behavior.
Name:  Michelle
Subject:  Neurology and Trauma
Date:  2004-01-22 09:38:01
Message Id:  7710
I am a chemistry major/pre-vet student and like most people in the class, I have studied neurobiology mainly on a physiological level. A few years ago, I watched a program about the reactions of humans undergoing extreme trauma (i.e. animal attack, car accidents, falls). What was most interesting to me is that the human body began taking steps to either heal itself or to conserve energy in the damaged part of their body. Cases showed that when medical help was applied, the body would react negatively to the unnatural sensations by shutting itself off systematically towards death. Are there ways to study similar cases to find a point during a body's downward spiral where medical assistance would be more effective versus another point? How much control does the brain have over this? Is it purely involuntary?
Name:  debbie hana yi
Subject:  In response to Emily Hayes-Rowan
Date:  2004-01-22 09:51:53
Message Id:  7711

I'm glad you brought up color blindness. I have been thinking about red/green color blindness for quite some time. I wonder what color the color-blind person sees when he/she sees red or green... if there are different shades of those colors, if he sees a totally different color like the "normal" blue, the confusion that goes along with everyday life (like traffic lights). I try and imagine myself in the mind of someone who is color blind, which is difficult; therefore, I'd like to learn more about this subject. That's awesome that you brought it up, and I hope to read the book you mentioned. Thanks!

Name:  Student Contributor
Subject:  Behavior
Date:  2004-01-22 14:50:58
Message Id:  7715
I was thinking about what was said in class today about how behavior is influenced only by the brain - that's it. And I started thinking, what exactly does the brain then consist of? The brain is the intellectual center of the body, and is probably tied with the heart for the physical center of the body as well. But what do I keep in my brain? Memories, lessons learned, past experiences, things read and seen in books, movies, life, et cetera. Do all these things stay kept in my brain? How do I know that I must behave differently at a former dinner than at a drive-in movie? What makes me behave differently when around my parents than when I'm around my friends? The answer here to me seems to be "experience", but then where does experience fit into the brain? Is it seperate, joined, connected, contained?

My point is, if someone had asked us outside of this class "What influences behavior?", we might have answered with numerous variables. "Education. Childhood. Emotion. The weather. The setting. The people. The past. The future. Et cetera, et cetera, and so forth." But how do these things tie into the brain? Does the brain contain all these things, and if it does, can we then rightly (or less wrongly) say that it is the brain and only the brain that influences behavior?

Over and out.

Username:  Anonymous
Date:  2004-01-23 13:53:49
Message Id:  7717
I am interested in the existence of ideas. What are mental images, and if they are physical,where and how do they exist in the brain? WHen I have an idea of say, a purple mountain, that mountain exists somewhere in my brain I suppose, or does it? Even if you can trace all of the physical states that correspond to my image, there is still a level at which the mountain itself exists, not just as any kind of chemical in the brain, but more than that. Or not?
Name:  Maryam
Date:  2004-01-23 13:58:59
Message Id:  7718
Sorry, I accidentally submitted too soon above. I also wanted to say that the way we think about neurobiology has huge philosophical consequences, and vice versa. Is consciousness a singular entity, with each person possessing a unique and distinct consciousness? I suspect consciousness is more like a conglomerate of physical phenomena that taken individually might not seem obviously associated with consciousness. The answers we accept or rule out can help us ask better questions about who we are and what we are like.
Name:  Anjali Vaidya
Subject:  Memory
Date:  2004-01-23 14:11:12
Message Id:  7719
I was thinking about what Student Contributor wrote, and then got an idea walking back to my room that seemed so important at the time I had to immediately scribble it in the margin of a notebook... Let me see if I make this thought a little more coherent than my scribble turned out to be.

I was thinking that a lot of your behaviour is dictated just by memory- experiences translate as memory, so much of the time. Or, well, not all experience- sometimes your responses to a situation are more deeply ingrained than long-term memory, some learned responses don't leave you even if you lose your memory. But so much of how you behave, so much of who you are, is decided by the memories you carry- defined by the memories you carry. And since those memories are stored by the brain- tied to this material, deeply fragile object, I think it can be said pretty definitely that memories aren't at all separate from the brain. They can be lost if your brain is damaged- or, I guess more accurately, the ability to access them can be lost very easily, which amounts to the same thing.

And so... It's intriguing- when so much of who you are is memory, and the ability to form new memories, what are you, really, without all of that? Do you lose yourself if your brain is damaged? Or can you really say that there's a self to be lost, if all that your "self" is is a bundle of memories and impressions and sensations... Unless that isn't all the self is- unless your self transcends the brain, which is a much more comforting way of looking at things in a lot of ways. Which is, perhaps, why people often prefer to see it that way- simply because it's more comforting. I'm sorry, I'm just typing as I'm thinking, here. I know it's not terribly coherent.

It makes me think of another story by Oliver Sacks- he wrote about a patient of his who had lost all memory of his life after the age of 20 or so, and had also lost the ability to form new memories. It makes you really wonder what that would be like- to be alive, to be able to feel, to be perfectly healthy and able to function in all other respects, but have no memory of events after periods of more than a few minutes. To be living, in effect, in one ever-changing moment, with no memory of what came before.

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