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Publisher's Summary

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?
©2005 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2005 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

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By Douglas on 08-31-13

Perfect Follow Up

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.

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27 of 29 people found this review helpful


By S-C on 03-26-14

The best story teller on biology and life, ever!

I first attended Prof. Sapolsky's seminar on "Aging" in Santa Rosa California, almost 20 years ago. I was so fascinated by his story telling that I spent the next 20 years trying to learn as much as I could on neuroscience and human behavior, even though it's not related to my profession. I read all his books, and I enjoyed all his audio lectures. This is what a great teacher can do, inspiring audience to explore a new subject with passion and interest. This audio book, "Biology and Human Behavior: The Neurological Origins of Individuality", is by far the best one, synthesizing nuggets of knowledge from his many other lectures, beautifully.

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12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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By Ben on 03-20-15

very neuroscience

narrator talks fast and can be difficult to keep up with at times.
very interesting listen though.
a pre existing knowledge of neuroscience is essential.
very detailed and flows well.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful


By Santiago on 10-04-16

Fascinating topic

Amazing course on tracing human behavior back through the insights of neurology, endocrinology, genetics and evolution.
A few lectures at the end apply this scheme to violent behavior. Here I missed some deeper connections from violent tendencies to other maybe not so destructive behaviors, i.e. going one level up towards psychology, but hey, the scope is already massive, and all the appropriate caveats were in place.
Recommended!!

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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By Anonymous User on 12-12-17

Sapolsky.<br />best bio teacher ever

loved it totally changed my core beliefs and understanding of the animal and human environments.

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By Anonymous User on 08-22-17

Thoroughly enjoyed this lecture.

Vivid explanation, amazing insight. Great teacher! I can't wait to ponder this new information with friends.

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