January 16, 2008
A conversation with behavioral biologist Robert M. Sapolsky, who will discuss the biology of our individuality, how to make sense of our behavior in the context of brains, genes, and hormones. Sapolsky will delve into the interface between our minds and our bodies.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
Behavioral biology is often the scientific pursuit of this serenity prayer. Which of our less commendable ways of behaving can we hope to change, and which are we stuck with? How is it that you can think a thought, have a memory or surge of emotion, (products of our minds) and, as a result, alter the activities of virtually every cell in the body? On the other hand, what are the mechanisms by which events in our bodies (changes in hormones, nutrition, health) can alter our thoughts and feelings? And why are these dangerous questions to address?
Dr. Robert M. Sapolsky is a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, and a research associate with the Institute of Primate Research at the National Museum of Kenya. In addition to A Primate’s Memoir, which won the 2001 Bay Area Book Reviewers Award in nonfiction, Sapolsky has written three other books: The Trouble with Testosterone, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, and Monkeyluv and Other Essays on our Lives as Animals. His articles have appeared in publications such as Discover and The New Yorker.
Sapolsky is noted for bringing humor and humanity to often sobering subjects. The uniqueness of his perspective on the human condition comes from the ease with which he combines his insights from the field with his findings as a neuroscientist. His lecture will give a broad overview of behavioral biology and nature/nurture elements, including a digression into some history of science with some sociopolitical implications.
Join us in exploring the interface between our minds and our bodies. A book signing will follow.