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Nature or Nurture? Dowling, John E.
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ISBN 13: 9780309092234
More filters. Sort order. Jun 24, Mark rated it really liked it Shelves: psychology , science. This book is a good primer on how the brains of humans and other creatures develop in the womb and beyond, and it deals with many of the thorny issues in the nature-nurture debate. The bottom line for Dowling, a Harvard neuroscience professor, is that we still understand so little about the complete workings of the brain, even though our knowledge is increasing by leaps and bounds, that it is impossible to say how much of our cognitive abilities are hard-wired and how much are influenced by the e This book is a good primer on how the brains of humans and other creatures develop in the womb and beyond, and it deals with many of the thorny issues in the nature-nurture debate.
The bottom line for Dowling, a Harvard neuroscience professor, is that we still understand so little about the complete workings of the brain, even though our knowledge is increasing by leaps and bounds, that it is impossible to say how much of our cognitive abilities are hard-wired and how much are influenced by the environment, whether it is external signals or internal ones in the womb.
To use just one example, he notes that animal studies have shown that there is a critical developmental period where visual abilities can be altered by closing off vision to one or both eyes. In those cases, certain kinds of vision can never be recovered, and there is evidence that the other eye if one eye has been sealed takes over the neuronal territory of the other in the visual cortex.
At the same time, though, these manipulations don't change the routing of neurons from the retina of both eyes to their first way station in the brain -- they only change the "interpretation" area in the visual cortex at the back of the brain. If it's so hard to figure out the mix of genetics and the environment in something as straightforward as basic vision, think of the difficulties in parsing out the much more complicated areas of human memory, IQ, social abilities and other more advanced traits. Along with other neurobiologists, I think Dowling believes that much of our brain function is inherited, maybe half or more, depending on the particular ability, but that the full interplay of genetic instructions, environmental signals, messages in utero and other factors is far from being unraveled.
ISBN 13: 9780309092234
He even presents his own theory for why he believes human life span will not grow much beyond the year range: because the brain itself inevitably deteriorates and there seems to be little evidence of being able to stave off that decline indefinitely. It is possible to transplant hearts, livers and kidneys as well as other organs from humans and even animals, and artificial organs are being developed. But I don't think anyone seriously believes that we can transplant a whole brain or make an artificial brain.
Indeed, even if one could do this, the uniqueness of the individual would be destroyed. Furthermore, as noted earlier, if whole brain transplantation were possible, it would be better to be the donor than the recipient!
View 2 comments. Oct 20, Essam Munir rated it really liked it Shelves: neuroscience.
Interesting, but it may seem boring for those with no background in neuroscience. It slightly scratches the surface of the Nature vs Nurture debate and it's mostly about how the brain develop and what the experiments have shown. If you're a researcher, then this book is good for you.
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