How Does Biology Drive Behavior

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Moran Cerf, a neuro scientist at the NYU and the UCLA, starts his lecture with a question: How many of you texted while driving? The point of this question is that we all have a small person in our brain that knows what is right and wrong. But, sometimes we have a conflict in our brain with that "person" while making a decision. We make seemingly stupid decisions though we should have known better. The brain is the decision maker for ourselves. One example Cerf shows is that having a tumor at a certain part of the brain can change sexual behavior. A men deviating from normal sexual behavior was found affected by a tumor inside the brain. After the tumor was removed, the man returned to normal behavior. Another example is a woman who's brain cells can be made heard while she is watching a movie. The brain cell activities also "fire" when she only thinks of that specific movie. But, Cerf is also able to track the brain activity before the actual event of thinking at a movie. Hence, the scientists where able to predict what the person thought before she actually thought about it. There is real mismatch in timing between the choice made in our brain and activily realized by ourselves. "As soon as the subject in the experiment knows something, we also know it". Cerf explains. There is also no real distinction between different personalities in our brain. The brain is us and our behavior is at some point very predictable. It is astonishing how our brain makes decisions and how it makes decisions based upon emotions which we often can't control. It seems like that instead of we making a choice deliberately ex ante, our brain actually "knows" what to do before we actually realize it and we give an explanation ex post.

Mentioned in this live blog

Moran Cerf
Kellogg School of Management and NYU department of Neurosurgery
Professor Neurosurgery
Kellogg School of Management and NYU department of Neurosurgery

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