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Can Modern Brain Research Help Society?

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The mysterious and fascinating human brain

Both of us have had some questions about how some people find themselves doing heinous things like molesting children and other out of control sexual appetites of all types or committing cold blooded murder with no feelings at all. We understand that everything we end up doing starts with a decision in the mind. We wonder how on earth could anyone make some of the choices that they obviously have made. Here are some of our thoughts.

We watched an episode of the Charlie Rose program called The Charlie Rose Brain Series for the first time a few weeks ago. This series focuses on brain research and how it might explain different aspects of a person’s life and its impact on society as a whole.

Each episode has a panel of research experts from leading Universities and Research Centers that discuss the findings of their research. The panel is led by Eric Kandel, a neuropsychiatrist who is currently a professor at Columbia University. This has been a field of study he has been fascinated with for over six decades. When he started his research there were not a lot of research tools available. However in recent years more sophisticated tools are now available to research the brain. Some of the tools provide 3D models to help identify portions of the brain and what makes the brain function properly.

The third episode we watched discussed research of the section of the brain that affects Aggression. We were stunned at the information and the tools available to determine which sections of the brain impact aggression and how proper treatment, including drug therapy and counseling, could completely reverse dangerous aggressive behavior. We also had a better understanding on how complicated and amazing our brains are. 

During this episode it was mentioned that the area of the brain that controls aggression is right next to the area of the brain that deals with sexuality. You can only imagine if those areas of the brain are not quite working right or if the needed hormones levels are low or if they are to close. This might explain how someone could become heartless and get joy in sexually assaulting someone.

Another part of the program discussed the section of the brain that controls compassion and empathy. Imagine if that part of the brain is not working well in combination with the area of the brain controlling aggression not functioning properly. This may be a possible explanation of how a person who can kill someone and not have any remorse or feeling about it.

You can watch the 55-minute video of the Aggression episode by clicking here. The videos on the Charlie Rose website use flash so you will only be able to watch them on your computer.

A few days ago we watched the fourth episode of the Brain Series titled The Biology of Parenting. This one gives possible explanations of how children are positively or negatively impacted depending on the type of parenting they experience. It also brings insight as to what could be happening in the brains of parents that make them not want to nurture their children, especially when they are the most vulnerable. Postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis were also discussed. You can watch the 55-minute video by clicking here.

In society we correctly condemn bad behavior and work hard to protect society from those that have proven to be dangerous people. Our prisons have men and women incarcerated in many cases for the remainder of their lives or may have been executed for their crimes. In many cases when really heinous acts have been committed it is assumed that those people will never change in order to protect society. In light of modern brain research we sincerely wonder if the results in the future could help rehabilitate some of them.

Very interesting topics are discussed in these videos. For example some people are born with brain dysfunctions. Some people acquire the same dysfunction by the way they have been treated by others, especially at an early age. Others have acquired the same dysfunction from their day-to-day behavior as adults.  

Question: Should society and the justice system treat them all the same or differently?

Let us know what you think.

Until next time.......

More Rain Today....Sigh

Video of our back yard this morning

At least we are only under a flood advisory.... no tornado warning! Thinking of the precious people in other parts of Oklahoma and Texas where many people have lost their property and others have tragically died. They really need a break from the rain. Amazing since right now California would be so grateful to have a whole lot of rain to alleviate the drought. 

Oops, within the hour the flood advisory changed to a flood warning.

The empty nest

The little bird grew up and was able to vacate the nest with its parents.  Be careful of the cats around here.

We knew at some point that the bird would grow up and leave the nest to venture out on its own. However we thought the bird would be around longer that it was. Check our previous blog post for the history of the bird nest in our back yard.

The same can happen in our lives. We may find ourselves being unexpectedly launched into the next phase of our lives. Sometimes that launch may look scary to you as it probably did to the bird when it first tried to fly out of the nest. However when we continue pressing forward we will look back at those scary days as the pivotal moment when success began.

Birds in our backyard

One of the parents of the little bird

The little bird

The Parents of the little bird