Hormones, Sex, and Society: The Science of Physicology

Hormones, Sex, and Society: The Science of Physicology

Hormones, Sex, and Society: The Science of Physicology

Hormones, Sex, and Society: The Science of Physicology

Synopsis

Nyborg sets out to prove that classic ideas of the mind, learning, and memory must be re-examined through the lens of modern biology. Neuroscience and the biological and biomedical sciences have advanced far beyond the limits of 19th century neuroanatomy, and we now know that chemical neurotransmitters and circulating hormones act to alter electrical brain activity and structure. At the same time, heredity is now recognized to be not as omnipotent as in the "Nature/Nurture" debate of the last century. After examining these issues, Nyborg concludes by advancing a new synthesis--Physicology--the study of physico-chemical processes behind body, brain, behavior, and society.

Excerpt

The many attempts to explain human behavior have resulted in systems that rely on the concepts we use to describe our experiences and thought processes, and so these attempts fail to make any connection to the organ in which these processes are occurring, namely, the brain. a classic example is the work of Sigmund Freud, a neurologist who turned away in frustration from the limited prospects of nineteenth-century neuroanatomy as an explanatory tool for human behavior and psychopathology. Instead, Freud created a system of psychoanalysis that paved the way for systematic and humane treatment of mental disorders. At the same time, his system failed to provide a basis for eventually reconnecting itself to the living brain.

Neuroscience and biological and biomedical science have advanced enormously beyond the limited prospects of nineteenth-century neuroanatomy. As a result, we now know that chemical neurotransmitters and circulating hormones act to alter electrical brain activity and structure. Genes of the hereditary material are continually being called upon to change their expression by the actions of these chemical messengers, with the result that our heredity is continually contributing to our behavior. At the same time, heredity is no longer recognized as the omnipotent force it was in the nature-nurture debate of the last century. Hereditary diseases like familial diabetes and Alzheimer's disease have only a 50 percent concordance in identical twins, indicating the powerful role environmental factors play in their expression.

Environmental factors such as light and dark, heat and cold, the season of the year, and the experiences we have are all able to regulate the secretion of hormones of the gonads, adrenals, and thyroid gland, which have direct impact on gene expression throughout the developing and adult brain. the brain responds to these hormones by altering its circuitry and chemistry, and the brain is shaped and maintained by the interactions with circulating . . .

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