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MEL's picture

Reflecting on the Semester

When the semester started, I was a bit unsure about my stance on the Descartian and Dickinsonian arguments. I think I was leaning more towards Descartes' opinion. I preferred Descartes’ opinion because to think that the brain and its chemical reactions solely control my being made me feel like I had no personal control over myself. I also felt like I was not a unique and individual person if all that controlled me was my brain. In this way, I found Descartes’ theory much more comforting because it made me feel like I was more than my brain.  Now, I agree with Dickinson’s opinion. The evidence supports Dickinson’s claim because a person’s behavior (which is thought to be controlled by the mind) can be controlled by pharmaceuticals that change brain chemistry.  The fact that my behavior is controlled by my brain no longer upsets me. We have spent this semester exploring individual differences caused by unique neuronal pathways in the brain. So, even though our brains control our behavior we are still individuals and have control over ourselves.

The conversation that will stick the most in my mind is our discussion about color and vision. I found this topic very interesting and eye-opening. I think the most important thing for other people to be aware of is the I-function. People should be aware of the fact that many things (that aren’t connected to the I-function) go on beneath their consciousness. Learning about the I-function, has made me think of things in a different way and see things in a new light.

Three questions involving the brain and behavior that I would most like to see pursued in the next few years are:

1.      How does personality develop? Which has a greater influence on personality, genetics or environment?

2.      What is the most effective way to treat mental disorders?

3.      Why isn’t it possible to reconnect or repair neurons after they have been destroyed? Many diseases are caused by cell death or weakening, so would it someday be possible to transplant or regenerate neurons?



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