femme Neuroscience

Some Topics

Neuroscience: Understanding the Human Brain

The first annual meeting of the society for neuroscience was held in 1971 in Washington, DC. Vernon Mountcastle, the first elected president of the fledgling society, planned every detail of the inaugural meeting and was at the front door to greet everyone into what would eventually become a major scientific discipline. The society would grow rapidly as researchers in departments of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, psychiatry, psychology, neurology, neuroethology, neurochemistry, neurobiology and neuroengineering found common ground in probing brains and behavior. Mountcastle, foresaw a future for neuroscience that transcended traditional disciplines.[i]

Neuroscience views minds as manifestations of the living processes found in brains. Brain science does not "explain" mind, or consciousness, but does give us strategies for understanding the properties of mind. Mind and body mesh with world events. The brain is the organ of the mind. Humans, like other animals, continuously interact with their environment to bring their existing or anticipated state into congruence with a desired state. Humans and other animals are engaged in a continuous tracking operation to locate sources of food and water and to avoid danger. The basic idea behind animal brains is to bring information about the outside world together with information from inside the body.

Images of the outside tend to be detailed and explicit in consciousness. Vision, hearing and smell are distance senses that inform about events far away. Sensors on the surface of the body inform about close contacts. Sensors in muscles and joints inform about our movement in space-time and provide information about contact with the ground. Sense receptors inside the body are of various kinds and are not clearly represented in consciousness. Inner sensors provide information to the brain about conditions in the body and provide feedback that informs the brain about the consequences of actions taken in the world outside. '

Humans are animals in motion. They all appear to be looking for something or someone. Humans, like other animals, continuously interact with their environment. The paradox is that the maintenance of inner homeostasis relies on continuously regenerating state of behavioral disequilibrium. To maintain blood sugar at a relatively stable level, for example, humans have to make repeated trips out of their comfort zone to find food. Drives are states of disequilibrium that originate with body needs and are briefly stabilized by satisfying the need. Foraging, hunting, capturing and killing are strategies of finding food. Predatory aggression is a behavior package attached to the drive to find food. Secondary goals are more numerous and include defining and defending territory, having sex, finding shelter and securing a modicum of temporary safety through group cooperation.
[i] Terrence J. Sejnowski. Vernon Mountcastle. Father of Neuroscience. PNAS,May 26, 2015  vol. 112