Brain and behavior gas numbers stove temperature

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Is it possible that everything one is, does, and experiences is a function of the brain, just as Emily Dickinson suggested nearly one hundred and fifty years ago? Could it be that one is who one is because of what one’s brain is? And that becoming something different means changing the brain? If so, what are the implications of this? Do we lose something, or is the brain actually big enough, as Dickinson suggested, to contain everything? If so, what might we be able to do that has never before been possible? What are the risks, the gains, the new landscapes which would be opened to explore?

The exhibits and materials collected here are intended to make it possible for you to share some of the kinds of experiences which suggest that indeed the nervous system may be the heart of the matter and to think about the implications and the new questions this raises. Your thoughts are welcome in the on-line forum for the general topic of brain and behavior, as well as in the forums associated with the pages/exhibits linked below.

" What the empirical evidence tells is that, far from being meaningless, we are, individually and collectively, equipped not only to appreciate meaning but, even more importantly, to continually conceive and revise it. The evidence suggests that to be human is to be a meaning maker, individually and collectively."

What one sees (or hears or feels or tastes or smells) is… reality? Or a construction of the brain? A construction that might be different individuals with different brains? Different for the same individual at different times? If so, what would this mean about what it is to be human? About human interaction?

Supposing that in fact everything one is is a function of the brain. And the brain is itself organized matter. Does that mean that we are machines, in the sense that we actually have no influence over our own behavior? Or is there a way that matter could be organized that gives us some genuine capabilities of personal responsibility and free will?

If everything is in the brain, then education is a function of the brain, a way of adding to and enhancing what’s in the brain. And educators ought to think of themselves as nurturers of brain development. Does thinking about education in terms of the brain make a difference? If so, how? Materials below are aimed at these questions and encouraging further conversation about them.

Exploring Mental Health A collection of materials and resources aimed to promote "productive interaction among people from diverse perspectives… and continual exploration of issues relating to mental health and broader issues relating to body/brain/mind/self…" and on-line forum.

Models of Mental Health: A Critique and Prospectus A discussion of and reflection on the "medical model" of mental health, a broader "biological/neurobiological/cultural" model, and further ways to conceive of better ways to think about mental health, and on-line forum.

Mental Health and the Brain A seminar course and on-line forum discussions exploring implications of past and ongoing research on the brain for thinking about the nature of mental health and about the value of various therapeutic and institutional approaches to mental health problems, Fall 2008.

An explosive growth of understandings of the brain has not only been occurring but is continuing. And associated with it come continually new challenges to older ways of thinking and new opportunities to conceive and reconceive what it is to be human. Links below are to materials related to current developments in understanding the brain and the implications.