Saturday, September 19, 2020

Thoughts- Behave by Robert Sapolsky

 I picked up this book to explore the theme, "The biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst." How does our biology work at our best and worst? Best, while we love. Worst? While we harm others?

The book starts with a piece of advice, "stop categorical thinking."  There’s no particular factor that causes behaviour. Not a gene, hormone, neuron, neuron transmitter. Everything is contextual dependent. "....And it’s officially complicated," mentions the author. 

I loved understanding the working of the brain, neuron, neurotransmitter, and then what happens a second before a behavior occurs,  a minute before, a month before, a millennium before. 

Amygdala, hypothalamus, Pre Frontal Cortex. Oxytocin. Vasopressin. Testosterone. There are a lot of things, I got to know about. Glucocorticoids.

In the first chapters, answers to a few questions like, "Does alcohol makes you aggressive? Does oxytocin causes love?" seemed interesting. A special mention was given about childhood. Childhood is important. It molds our life. Does a terrible childhood define a terrible life? No. 

Uhh. Yeah, told you so it’s complicated. 

I was bummed to read about genes. I didn't have any knowledge of DNA, RNA, Genes, genomes. Enjoyed reading about how genes/ environment interaction works. How a few people exploited the genes and used them in the justice system to escape out of trials. MAO-A variant gene! A lot more on it. 

Further, going back a millennium before, I read about evolution. What’s with evolution? reciprocal altruism, game theory, neo group selection. There’s a lot more than Darwin and evolution. 

There is also an interesting story from the Mt. Abu region. Never expected that I would read a story of Mt. Abu from this Robert Sapolsky’s book.

Also, the Prefrontal cortex, how it’s not developed fully till Mid 25s. Why do youth take more risk? 

Through this book, I got interested in molecular biology. How do our thoughts affect our brains? I hope, I find answers to my questions in this book. So far so good. 

Robert Sapolsky's classes are also interesting.  Good humor. Not at all boring.

I am so done with this. I can’t put it down. I can’t just skim the book. It’s understanding. It’s confusing. It’s gripping. It’s jargon. 

It’s completely new. It’s not too academic. The writing style is nice. It’s well written. Need a lot of energy to read this book. 

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