Brain

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A human brain

The brain is a major part of the central nervous system. In vertebrates, the brain is connected to the spinal cord. In invertebrates' nervous systems, the brain can be a decentralized collection of neurons or a single ganglion. In the vertebrates, the brain is much more complex and is divided into three separate areas, the forebrain, the midbrain, and the hindbrain. The brain is involved in higher functioning such as decision-making, speech, and processing of the senses.

In adult humans, the brain weighs about 3 lbs., with 100 billion neurons, and up to 100 trillion connections.

Investigations using new techniques such as fMRI are expanding knowledge on the relationship between the brain and behavior.

Parts of the brain

Medulla

The medulla is located near the top of the spinal column. It is the part of the hindbrain where nerves cross from one side of the body to the opposite side of the brain. It controls life-sustaining functions such as breathing, swallowing, and the beating of the heart. (Ciccarelli & White, 70)[1]

Cerebellum

The cerebellum is located at the base of the skull. It is a part of the hindbrain that controls balance and maintains muscle coordination. It controls all involuntary motor movement, such as sitting upright. It also coordinates in voluntary movements that happen in rapid succession, such as walking, dancing, swimming, and even the movements of speech. Learned reflexes and skills are stored here, allowing them to be more automatic. (Ciccarelli & White, 70)[1]

Thalamus

The thalamus is a part of the forebrain that relays information from sensory organs to the cerebral cortex. It is a round structure in the center of the brain. The thalamus performs some processing of sensory information before sending the it to its specific part of the cortex. (Ciccarelli & White, 71)[1]

Hypothalamus

The hypothalamus is a small structure located below the thalamus and above the pituitary gland. It is responsible for motivational behavior such as sleep, hunger, thirst, and reproduction. It also regulates body temperature, emotions, and hormone regulation.

Hippocampus

The hippocampus is named as such due to the fact that it looks like a seahorse. The hippocampus forms long-term memories that are stored elsewhere in the brain.[2]

Amygdala

The amygdala is located near the hippocampus. These two structures are responsible for fear responses and memory of fear.

Free Will

See also: Atheism and free will

Many liberal scientists believe that modern neuroscience is a subversion of free will, and that the brain is all there is to personality. This is to the direct exclusion of the soul and God's will. For instance, if someone was to commit a crime, that person could be exonerated on the basis of his neurological abnormalities, which are not his fault. Descartes attempted to avoid this issue by placing the soul at the helm of the individual, stating that it was our spirits that truly drive us. The soul attached to the brain via the pineal gland, communicating with the corporeal matter by squeezing the central gland, and pumping cerebrospinal fluid through the body. However, his atheism left no place for communion of the soul with God, and Descartes was also mistaken in the belief that only humans have pineal glands. Many conservative scientists are now taking into account the soul, when they factor in free will, which allows for much more variation among individuals.

Neuroplasticity

See also: Neuroplasticity

Personality is the way people think, feel, and behave.[3]

According to the National Institute of Health, "Neuroplasticity, also known as neural plasticity or brain plasticity, is a process that involves adaptive structural and functional changes to the brain."[4]

An article on neuroplasticity further states:

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s capacity to continue growing and evolving in response to life experiences. Plasticity is the capacity to be shaped, molded, or altered; neuroplasticity, then, is the ability for the brain to adapt or change over time, by creating new neurons and building new networks.

Historically, scientists believed that the brain stopped growing after childhood. But current research shows that the brain is able to continue growing and changing throughout the lifespan, refining its architecture or shifting functions to different regions of the brain.

The importance of neuroplasticity can’t be overstated: It means that it is possible to change dysfunctional patterns of thinking and behaving and to develop new mindsets, new memories, new skills, and new abilities.[5]

UC Davis researchers indicate:

It has long been believed that people can’t change their personalities, which are largely stable and inherited. But a review of recent research in personality science points to the possibility that personality traits can change through persistent intervention and major life events.

Personality traits, identified as neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness, can predict a wide range of important outcomes such as health, happiness and income. Because of this, these traits might represent an important target for policy interventions designed to improve human welfare.

The research, published in the December issue of American Psychologist, is the product of the Personality Change Consortium, an international group of researchers committed to advancing understanding of personality change. The consortium was initiated by Wiebke Bleidorn and Christopher Hopwood, University of California, Davis, professors of psychology who are also co-authors of the latest paper, “The Policy Relevance of Personality Traits.” The paper has 13 other co-authors.[6]

The article How to Become a New Person Through Neuroplasticity states:

In Atomic Habits, James Clear expands on this idea and suggests that changing your habits requires not only changing your thought patterns, but your underlying beliefs about yourself. If you want to change yourself to be more assertive, for example, but deep down you still believe you are a timid person, the changes you make toward being assertive will not last.)

According to Dispenza, when an emotion lasts more than a few hours, it becomes a mood. When it lasts more than a few days, it becomes a temperament. When it lasts years, it becomes a personality trait. Replacing a negative personality trait with a positive one, then, requires changing the emotions that eventually build to that trait.[7]

Some of the key ways an individual can change their personality is through improving:[8][9]

Neuroplasticity and the potential to change one's personality

See: Neoroplasticity and the ability of individuals to change their personality

Human consciousness and the existence of God

See also: Atheism and irrationality

Atheism and the brain

Atheism and intelligence

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ciccarelli, Saundra K., and J. Noland White. Psychology. 3rd ed., Pearson, 2012.
  2. Bigler, E.D., Johnson, S.C., Anderson, C.V., Blatter, D.D., Gale, S.D., Russo, A.A., Ryser, D.K., Macnamara, S.E., Bailey, B.R., & Hopkins, R.O. (1996). Traumatic brain injury and memory: The role of the hippocampal atrophy. Neuropsychology, 10, 333-342.
  3. Great Ideas in Personality
  4. Neuroplasticity
  5. Neuroplasticity
  6. Can you change your personality?
  7. How to Become a New Person Through Neuroplasticity
  8. 9 Tips to improve your personality, Personality Labs website]
  9. Activities for personality development: 15 ways to grow by By Erin Eatough, PhD
  • Martin, JH (2003). Neuroanatomy text and atlas 3rd ed., New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Kandel, ER; Schwartz JH, Jessell TM (2000). Principles of Neural Science, 4th ed., New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-8385-7701-6.