A neuroscientific perspective on neurobiological differences in everyone

Jerry Sandusky — a head case puzzle By Robert M. Sapolsky July 15, 2012

Excerpt: “Self-discipline, impulse control, gratification postponement and emotional regulation are all just as much products of biology as anything else that emanates from the brain. The same types of evidence that allowed us to understand the role for biology in such things as abnormal sexual urges have also demonstrated a role for biology in giving in to those urges.”

Excerpt 2: “If we are going to incorporate biology into thinking about human behavior — as logic demands we do — then we have to consider how it applies to all our domains of behavior. There are no separate categories.”


My comment (on separate categories):

What is known about adaptive evolution and the neuroscience of ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive niche construction minimally ensures that hormone-dependent human brain development has enabled free will. The number of our choices clearly exceeds the more readily demonstrable conditioned responses that are linked directly to unconscious affects on behavior from sensory input via gene activation in hormone-secreting nerve cells of brain tissue in the hypothalamus of other mammals. These are the classically conditioned (Pavlovian) responses associated with nutrient chemical acquisition and reproduction in species from microbes to man.

For contrast, it is our operantly conditioned responses that are linked to Pavlovian UCS:CS pairings to ensure we respond with animalistic behavior to the salience of integrated sensory cues. Both classical and operant conditoning lead to powerful reinforcement of neurophysiological rewards. Unlike other animals, nonetheless, we can think about how our behavior is linked to neurophysiological rewards, and attempt to determine why we may behave badly, and what to do about it.

In this context, it may be important to know the difference between classical and operant conditioning so that we might better be able to alter our responses to sensory input directly linked to the epigenetic effects of olfactory/pheromonal stimuli via GnRH.


Added comment: The focus of my model is on GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) and the epigenetic effects of sensory input that allow GnRH to control hormone-driven behavior in other mammals.  Food odors and pheromones control hormone-driven behavior in other mammals. If they also controlled our behavior, we would be no different than other animals.

Some of us may not be different, but most of us have the ability to think about the consequences of eating too much food (e.g., obesity), in the same way we can think about societal constraints on our sexual preferences and sexual behavior (e.g., prison).  It is our ability to think about such things that ensures the separate categories of behavior that, in Sapolsky’s well-delivered opinion, do not exist.

The separate categories are 1) classically conditioned behaviors compared to 2) operantly conditioned behaviors.  It is long past time for us to think about how odors classically condition animalistic behaviors, and to think more about how to avoid responding to food odors and social odors and sexual odors without thought — as we do when we forget that our responses are also operantly conditioned.

Given what is known about the molecular biology of behavioral development, as humans, we can no longer credibly deny the biological facts.  Classical conditioning linked directly from olfactory/pheromonal input causes changes in intracellular signaling and stochastic gene expression, which links sensory input directly to changes in hormone-driven behavior. Operant conditioning links the rewards associated with the behavior to behaviors that are repeated, or not. We can think about which behaviors we don’t want to exhibit or don’t want to repeat.

About James V. Kohl 1308 Articles
James Vaughn Kohl was the first to accurately conceptualize human pheromones, and began presenting his findings to the scientific community in 1992. He continues to present to, and publish for, diverse scientific and lay audiences, while constantly monitoring the scientific presses for new information that is relevant to the development of his initial and ongoing conceptualization of human pheromones. Recently, Kohl integrated scientific evidence that pinpoints the evolved neurophysiological mechanism that links olfactory/pheromonal input to genes in hormone-secreting cells of tissue in a specific area of the brain that is primarily involved in the sensory integration of olfactory and visual input, and in the development of human sexual preferences. His award-winning 2007 article/book chapter on multisensory integration: The Mind’s Eyes: Human pheromones, neuroscience, and male sexual preferences followed an award winning 2001 publication: Human pheromones: integrating neuroendocrinology and ethology, which was coauthored by disinguished researchers from Vienna. Rarely do researchers win awards in multiple disciplines, but Kohl’s 2001 award was for neuroscience, and his 2007 “Reiss Theory” award was for social science. Kohl has worked as a medical laboratory scientist since 1974, and he has devoted more than twenty-five years to researching the relationship between the sense of smell and the development of human sexual preferences. Unlike many researchers who work with non-human subjects, medical laboratory scientists use the latest technology from many scientific disciplines to perform a variety of specialized diagnostic medical testing on people. James V. Kohl is certified with: * American Society for Clinical Pathology * American Medical Technologists James V. Kohl is a member of: * Society for Neuroscience * Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology * Association for Chemoreception Sciences * Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality * International Society for Human Ethology * American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science * Mensa, the international high IQ society