Who Am I? (04:51)
Humankind seeks to define the concept of self in terms of brain functions alone. Consciousness is more than the brain, however, and must be encompassed within the mind. Is the search for the mind also the search for the soul?
Mind/Brain Connection (03:53)
In the 17th century, Descartes' assertion that the seat of the soul resides in the pineal gland shifts scientific focus to the brain itself. Since that time, mankind continues its efforts to demystify the body by searching for the mind/brain connection.
Mental Disorders (03:38)
It is still difficult for science to explain mental disorders such as manic depression in terms of brain functions alone. A woman is hospitalized 18 times for her mental disorder, yet it continues to ravage her life.
Functional brain imaging makes it possible to see the modularity of the brain at work in terms of specialization of brain regions. Yet science cannot explain how the specialization within the brain actually works.
Neurons and Neurotransmitters (02:38)
Neurons are biological entities that talk to each other through neurotransmitters. A scientist dissects the human brain to study the inner workings of neurons because a greater understanding of mental disorders will come through the knowledge of how neurons work.
Algorithms and Information Processing (03:28)
Algorithms are computations of neural activity—information processing in the brain. Scientists formulate basic computational principles and algorithms in different living systems to establish a new framework for thinking about the universe.
Brain: More Than a Computer (03:24)
Is the brain just like a computer processor? If so, then this metaphor impoverishes what it means to be human. Scientists developed "Cog," a "human robot" that may be able to help design itself as it learns "who" and what it is.
From Cosmic Matter to Human Consciousness (04:29)
Evolutionary scientists look for causes that precipitated human consciousness out of an unconscious cosmos. It is not clear to many scientists why the physical system of the brain should experience subjective states.
Choice and Free Will (05:03)
Including machines into the circle of commonality—those things being worthy of empathy—disregards the basis of ethics, free will, and citizenship. Making choices cannot be explained as random brain functions or purely in terms of physical laws.
Biology and Citizenship (03:32)
Humans behave with and towards each other in ways far beyond the limits of biology alone. Why do humans band together in a common cause? What is patriotism? These and other questions puzzle scientists about the nature of humanness.
Frontal Lobe: Moral Brain? (04:32)
After a pipe penetrates a man's skull, he changes from a God-fearing, organized, and respected foreman into an indecisive, foul-mouthed person. His injury indicates that personality changes occur when communication between the frontal lobe and the limbic system is interrupted.
Criminal Justice and Brain Impairment (06:03)
Criminal law fundamentally rests on the premise that humans have the ability to control their behavior. Yet, psychiatric disorders as well as organic disorders can arise from severe abuse or injury, rendering a person unlikely to exercise free will in orderly or responsible ways.
Psychopharmacology provides patients with mental disorders the opportunity to live "normal" lives, hold down jobs, and interact socially. Yet, who can determine the direct line from pathological deficit in the brain to the low end of the normal spectrum of human functioning?
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