When are we responsible for our own actions, and when are we in the grip of biological forces beyond our control? What determines who we fall in love with? The intensity of our spiritual lives? The degree of our aggressive impulses?
These questions fall into the scientific province of behavioral biology, the field that explores interactions between the brain, mind, body, and environment that have a surprising influence on how we behave. In short, how our brains make us the individuals we are.
In this series of 24 fascinating lectures by a prominent neurobiologist, zoologist, and MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant recipient, you'll investigate how the human brain is sculpted by evolution, constrained or freed by genes, shaped by early experience, modulated by hormones, and otherwise influenced to produce a wide range of behaviors, some of them abnormal. And you'll learn how little can be explained by thinking about any of these factors alone, because some combination of influences is almost always at work.
Professor Sapolsky includes a provocative exploration of the implications of our emerging understanding of the origins of individual differences, considering such questions as: How much do these insights threaten our own sense of self and individuality? Where do we draw the line between the essence of the person and the biological abnormalities? What counts as being ill? Who is biologically impaired, and who is just different? As more and more subtle abnormalities of neurobiology are understood, how much should we worry about the temptation to label people as "abnormal"? And what happens when we each have a few of these labels?
Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.
©2005 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2005 The Great Courses
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
for the Great Courses lectures Philosophy Of Mind and The Secrets Of Perception. This lecture series by Robert Sapolsky really ties together the ideas presented in these two other courses by uniting the physiology of the brain and the mysteries of individuality and consciousness. It is wonderfully rich in scientific detail and yet is presented with dynamic metaphor and example so as to make it readily accessible to the layman. The one bad rating for this book is unfair, in that it faults the series for not including the lecture notes and guides. For one, this is clearly stated in the Audio description, and for another, anyone who wants to pay attention to this series will get along just fine without the guides. (Many of the references can be looked up on the internet on the fly, anyway.) This series of lectures will prepare one for the works of Ramachandran, Gazzaniga and Seung, all of which I heartily endorse for further, more in-depth neurological texts.
Yes, the information presented in the course is accessible and fascinating, but there is simply so much of it...
Professor Sapolsky did not perform any "characters," as would be expected in a course like this. But his tone was always engaging and sometimes humorous. This book was never dry and always informative.
One small caveat: He spends a large section toward the end of the book focusing on the biology of aggression. I do wish he had devoted more time to other topics more--certain mental disorders, the neurobiology of mood in a resting state, etc. But there are only so many hours in a day, I realize.
All in all, this series is just wonderful.
I'm not sure why another reviewer gave this series a low rating because some supplemental/print materials are not present with the course. There's a disclaimer in bold right beneath the publisher's summary.
I didn't feel that my experience of the series was lessened in the slightest by not having these "extra" materials, and I started listening with only some (very) basic familiarity with neuroscience.
The only thing I see being a potential snag is visualizing a nerve cell, but that's easy to google.
Robert Sapolsky is an excellent teacher and this series of lectures is a wonderful listen. As mentioned in another review this audio book is missing the course guide that people familiar with the teaching company may expect and it would make an excellent supplement to these lectures. Best case scenario audible works out a deal with the teaching company to get them, but in the mean time this is definitely worth a listen if you'd like to better understand Humans and our behavior from the neurons on up.
If visual material (outline) referenced in the audio continuously would be part of the program it would deserve 5 stars.
When purchasing, there is no mention of the requirement suggested by the Teaching Company. This turns the Program into a simple audio product w/out study material and no possibility of following the excitement the lectures generate.
Professor Sapolsky is always worth listening to, but if you want to study and reflect on his lectures this is NOT your product. Turn to the Teaching Company and buy the DVD.
Being a Platinum member I am disappointed. First and last time I will purchase a Great Teachers program.
Amazing teacher, fascinating topic
The passion and love for science professor Sapolsky put in each topic
The whole course was amazing. Fine sense of humor
Makes me awe
The course in DVD is obviously better
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