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Nature – Nurture & the Brain Carolyn R. Fallahi, Ph. D.

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Presentation on theme: "Nature – Nurture & the Brain Carolyn R. Fallahi, Ph. D."— Presentation transcript:

1 Nature – Nurture & the Brain Carolyn R. Fallahi, Ph. D.

2 Principles of Development  Physical Growth: disproportionate growth Proximodistal principle Cephalocaudal principle Principle of Hierarchical Integration Principle of the independence of systems

3 Brain Development  Facts about the Brain At birth – brain has all the brain cells or neurons it will ever have. Regeneration issue. The role of the environment. Neural plasticity.

4 The role of the environment  Dr. Marion Diamond at the U. of California – Berkley. 1960s.  How does the brain develop?  What about IQ?  PET scans – Positron Emission Tomography.  Applications of Brain Research.  The role of nutrition and the brain.

5 Birth to Three – the Brain  100 billion neurons  1 trillion glial cells  What happens if there is deprivation or lack of stimulation?

6 Genes and the Brain  100,000 genes in human DNA  50,000 dedicated to constructing and maintaining the nervous system  The role of experience?  Brandi Binder example.

7 Neural Circuitry and Stress  What happens to children who are physically abused?  Emotional deprivation?  Is there critical periods for development?

8 Brain Plasticity  B-10  Age 18  The potential for greatness is encoded in the genes; but whether the potential is realized involves how patterns are etched by experience in critical years.

9 Politics of Biology  Addictive disorders  Sexual orientation  Criminality Nature or nurture? The role of genes. Implications? 1965 study imprisoned criminals Schizophrenia LeVay (1991) studies on homosexual males

10 Genes and Behavior  Are we going to be like our parents?  Can’t I change my destiny?  The biology-behavior connection Animal Studies Animal models Family / adoption studies Which is stronger? Nature or nurture? Venter: We simply do not have enough genes for this idea of biological determinism to be right. Our environments are critical.

11 Genes and behavior  Gene expression is vulnerable to experience.  Good example…. Fear of snakes.  What about language?  Love?  Antisocial behavior?

12 Genes and Behavior  Francis Galton  John Locke  Konrad Lorenz  Ivan Pavlov  Sigmund Freud  Noam Chomsky

13 Language Development  Noam Chomsky Nature of human language How do children learn to speak? Theories prior to 1950  B. F. Skinner and Behaviorism  Chomsky’s argument

14 Chomsky’s theory  The seed language is part of the human genome. Expressed level – surface structure Deep structure – rooted at the level of the seed language How do we convert deep structure into the surface structure? Language acquisition device (LAD)

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