Is it worth spending a week understanding action potentials and what does that imply for understanding behavior?

For the first time this semester, I felt like the material that we learned in class began to explain some of the biological reasons for certain behavior. But it is not that that I found valuable this week. The lecture regarding the action potential tied in well with the reading on the neuron from last week. The idea that it is electric currents travelling along the myelin sheaths of the axon that communicates from neuron to neuron and from sensory neurons to motor neurons help to explain how muscles and the nervous system inter act.

It also shows how the interactions between neurons are quite deliberate and while the information sent to the brain is the same, still some people react differently to different inputs. And even the same people react differently to the same input. Understanding the action potential provides one side (or rather a portion of one side) of behavior: The biological and chemical interactions that communicate within the body.

The mind and the spirit and the Inner Light also provide part of the solution to behavior, but underlying it all needs to be a tangible process that provides the basis for understanding. Without the understanding of different chemical relationships and electronic transmissions, the class would be scattered. Evryone "believes" different things about what controls behavior--that's terrific. However, in order to have any dialogue on the issue, there must be basic fundamentals that we all agree on and understand. For me, it was the beginning of the understanding of the electric current that moves along the axons running from the tip of the finger to the spinal cord. Eventually, I assume that our knowledge base will grow to see the communication between the spinal cord and the other lobes of the brain and we will have even more concrete material to base our discussions on, rather than a philosophical debate on the mind versus the brain which is ambiguous and difficult to debate.

Nice point. Indeed having something tangible agreed on gives a good base for more productive dialogue on what "controls behavior". And the behavior of neurons potentially gives us that (be careful, though; its not the "currents travelling along sheaths" that communicates from neuron to neuron or muscle but, as talked about yesterday, an intermediate chemical transmission step). We'll keep using that throughout the course to see what collective sense we can make of the differing perspectives that everyone does indeed have. PG