Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Reaction to 'Neurobiology and Behavior' Papers

Jessica Watkins's picture

After reading through four papers from the Bryn Mawr College Biology course Neurobiology and Behavior (found under "Starting Points"), it struck me how much humans and human interaction has to do with the world of science, particularly that of neuroscience.  Science is largely seen as a vast expanse where cold, hard facts and calculations reign supreme while creative juices dry up.  Scientists are not perceived as human, or even capable of feeling emotion regarding what they are studying. However, these papers demonstrated that science can apply to infinite numbers of traditionally "nonscientific" fields. Language, religion and racial profiling are just a few. Personally, I believe this is because our natural, God-given brain is science-oriented and highly analytical. Those of us who do not consider ourselves "science-friendly" are unaware that a scientific mind applies to all types of thought. Learning a new language through human-to-human interactions such as speaking and listening is only possible because of a brain that sorts information in a way that makes it easily  accessible in those kinds of situations.  Stereotypes about people, places and religion also arise from this categorizing brain, for better or worse. Groups and communities function as a "collective I-function," almost as if they are a single living being, and have everything to do with group learning theory and social behavioral patterns.


Whether we acknowlege our scientific brain or not, it is a presence that will never go away. A point that jumped out at me in "Making up the Mind" was the possibility that the brain, although it is a permanent fixture within our bodies, is a separate entity that we "cannot trust...anymore." Is this vital organ something that controls us and saps us of what we used to think was free will, or are our brains and our will housed in the same location? Should we feel violated that something all-powerful, against which we are helpless, is actually the driving force behind all our daily interactions with others? Is it right to be upset by the fact that what we perceive is actually a regurgitation of information by our brain? Or should we accept this fate?