LIARS, LOVERS, AND HEROES --- WHAT THE NEW BRAIN SCIENCE REVEALS ABOUT
HOW WE BECOME WHO WE ARE by Steven R. Quartz and Terrence J. Sejnowski. 2002
This book combines the latest findings in neuroscience with examples from history and recent headlines concerning militant Islamic terrorists to offer new insights into who we are --- as human beings!
1) Our brains, ourselves! (p1-20)
The book introduces the new science of "cultural biology" which integrates advances in brain imaging, computer modeling, and genetics. It demystifies the dynamic engagement between BRAIN and WORLD that makes us --- as human beings --- something far beyond the sum of our bodily parts!
The book shows how our shared humanity unfolds in precise stages as brain and world engage in increasingly complex levels. This scientific model helps us understand why we live together, love, kill --- and sometimes herorically lay down our own lives for others!
The book's answers are surprising and paradoxical compared to conventional/orthodox answers up to this point in history. This is because many of the noblest aspects of human nature, such as altruism, love, courage, and creativity, are rooted in brain systems so ancient that we share them with insects! Also, these "survival systems" form the basis as well of some of our darkest most destructive traits.
The new theory is that we survive by creating an ingenious "web of ideas" for making sense of our world. It is the symbolic reality called CULTURE! Thus, we are not the simple product of "animal urges" or "selfish" genes or behavior that can be explained by a "nature versus nurture" dichotomy.
Culture is the "blueprint" for survival! It is the legacy that we endow to our survivors!
Our engagement with the world excites "brain chemistry," which in turn drives further engagement with the world! This process is the essential ingredient in the further development of cultural complexity!
 Who are we?
This book will take you on a journey inside your brain to begin to help you uncover the mystrery of who you are!
 What is it to be a person?
 Are we good or fundamentally evil?
 What makes us happy?
 Ultimately, who can we become?
 Who do we think we are? (p5)
2) Making connections (p21-31)
 Prison life (p6-7)
 The modern battle for human nature (p7-9)
 Invasion of the body snatchers (p9-12)
 The march of the genes (p12-15)
 Taking the next step (p16-17)
 Follow the spot (p17-20)
 Thinking about the brain (p22-26)
3) How to make a human --- the 1.6 percent solution (p32-60)
 Our journey begins (p26-28)
 The post-modular world (p38-40)
4) Life on the far shore --- crossing the mental Rubicon (p61-87)
 Brain informants (p41-43)
 The fall of the genetic despot (p44-46)
 The key to making a human --- the new view of development (p46-52)
 The world can make you free (p52-56)
 Beyond Swiss army knives (p56-59)
 Culture and biology (p59-60)
 from La Jolla to Africa (p63-64)
5) Between thought and feeling --- the mystery of emotions (p88-122)
 A babe in toyland (p64-66)
 Signs of human life (p66-68)
 The search for Eden (p68-70)
 How to win friends and influence primates (p71)
 A tale of two apes (p72)
Girl power, Bonobo-style (p73-76)
 There is nothing glacial about glacial change (p76-81)
 Coming in from the rain --- culture as an umbrella (p81-85)
 Constructing yourself --- some self-assembly required! (p85-86)
 Culture's Faustian bargain (p86-87)
 The "well-cultured" brain (p87)
 Emotion's ancient roots (p90-92)
6) Becoming you --- genes, parenting, and personality (p123-147)
 The serotonin connection --- from here to ecstasy (p92-97)
The serotonin system is not the only mood system in the brain stem that fans out over wide areas. Another uses a chemical called noradrenaline --- also known as norepinephrine. A drug, rebosetine, marketed under the name Edronax, works along the lines of Prozak, except that it targets cells that make noradrenaline.
 What makes Spock run? (p97-98)
Whereas serotonin activation results in a serene mellowness, noradrenaline activity is more involved in increasing drive and motivation.
From the vantage point of psychology, the real problem with Spock is why he does anything at all. He seems to be clinically depressed, perhaps suffering from anhedonia, since nothing seems to gives him pleasure. For Spock, life has just lost its fun. No doubt a counselor would put Spock on Prozac!
 Cheer up, things could be worse (p98-100)
No matter how impressive Spock's thinking may be, there does not seem to be anything inside him to get him into gear. Is there a connection between his lack of emotion and his lack of motivation?
We can only speculate about the inner world of a Vulcan, but if the same question is asked about humans with bipolar disorder, there is a close connection between emotion and motivaton. In the 1970s research indicated that your emotions come from your brain's motivational system! Your brain's motivation system, or "behavioral facilitation system," is centered in a small group of cells in your "midbrain" area or in the VTA and "substantia nigra pars compacta" and uses the chemical dopomine. This motivation system of dopamine neurons underlies both the motivational and the emotional facets of extroversion, which facilitates your pleasurable engagement with the world. Thus it also plays a central role in cultural biology!
Dopamine is involved in our everyday good moods, called by researchers "positive emotionality!" Survey studies indicate that Americans think that about 50% of us are happy while scientific studies indicate that more than 80% are happy.
 Designs for a brain (100-103)
Why do so many people --- despite huge obstacles --- have their "emotional thermostats" hovering around a positive setting? The answer is in remembering that the same survival system underlying your emotional thermostat similarly underlies your drive and motivation, which is also called "approach tendencies."
Because positive moods energize approach tendencies, it is desirable that people on average be in a positive mood.
Human approach tendencies are demonstrated in the rapid exploration and settlement of new frontiers and in the unremitting invention of new ideas and institutions throughout human history. The large brains and opposable thumbs of human beings along with positive emotions were the three major reasons for the rapid spread of humanity around the world!
Being in a positive mood and being motivated to pursue goals are rooted in a common brain system, which is the dopomine system. But why are we interested in interacting with the world at all? Why do we pursue goals and why do certain aspects of the world have deep rewarding value to us?
 Deciding to survive (p103-105)
Animals need a brain to move around a changing world to obtain life-enhancing goals! Two features of our world make brains possible:
(1) change is uncertain but predictable
(2) uncertainty goes primarily in one direction --- toward the future!
If change happened randomly, then predictions about the future would only be as good as chance, which is hardly a basis for life!
Fortunately for all animals, the world changes in uncertain but predictable ways. Also, fortunate is that a "truth" about the matter of change is established once things happen, which allows us to build knowledge of the past!
 Games computers play (p105-108)
 How you learn the game (p108-111)
Research indicates that dopamine is involved in making predictions and decision making. If further research proves this connection, it would demonstrate that "shared design principles" across an enormosly diverse range of different specie's brains exists!
 Adding the bells and whistles (p111-118)
More research could tie together the many other functions of the dopomine system --- as both a motivating behavioral facilitation system and the inner fire of positive emotionality and extroversion --- with rational thought processes underlying learning and decision making!
These faculties would provide you with a stunningly complex "internal guideance system" underlying central facets of who you are!
 The human story (p118-120)
 Of human goals and a value-added world (121-122)
 A starting point --- genes and the baby (p125-128)
7) Friend, lover, citizen --- the mystery of life together (p148-188)
 Does being born "some way" equal being born "that way?" (p128-a29)
 From temperament to personality (p129-131)
 Enter Freud (p131-135)
 The trouble with traits (p135-137)
 the sense of being you (p138-140)
 Inventing you (p141-147)
 The origin's of society (p151-153)
8) The killer within --- from the solitary killer to the killing crowd (p189-215)
 The emergence of Homo Economicus (p153-154)
 Whither the common good? (p154-156)
 Hobbes's prison (p156-158)
 Escape from hobbes's prison (158)
 Whose happiness, whose utility? (p185-160)
 Social by nature (p160-163)
 The ties that bind (p163-164)
 Of sex and bondage (p164-165)
 Reptilian love (p165-170)
 Nurturing bonds (171-175)
 Experience and human bonds (p175-176)
 When friends get inside your head (p176-178)
 Why your friends may save your life (p179-181)
 Attachment and the "symbolic mind" (p181-186)
One of the greatest mysteries left to solve in the human puzzle is how primitive attachment systems interact with cortical systems to underlie a moral sense and systems of ethics. (p181)
 Conformity, cults, and the biology of loneliness (p186-188)
9) Inside intelligence --- rethinking what makes us smart (p216-251)
 Intelligence and the modern image (p218-219)
10) The search for happiness (p252-277)
 America retools IQ
AFTERWORD --- after 9/11 (p278-283)
Go to: Brainpower Issue at Work
Go to: Change Issue at Work
Go to: Creativity Issue at Work
Go to: Feelings Issue at Work
Go to: Motivation Issue at Work
Go to: Success Issue at Work
Go to: Leadership Control Essay
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Go to: Interactive Index