When I sat in my university Psychology 101 class (ahem, cough) 30 years ago, the overall argument was whether our personalities and behaviors came from our environment or our family-line. What is exciting for me to see, today, in my research for this series, is how much scientific breakthrough, we have personally witnessed over the last 30 years, in this area of the study of ourselves!
Now we can know the answer to that above debate is no longer one or the other; it is simply BOTH.
In this week’s article, we are going to begin our focus on the physical aspect. One. Layer. At. A. Time.
The latest technologies around the Human Genome Project, the invention of the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine, and the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans, have given us AMAZING insights to our brains and overall physical make-up!
Jennifer Ouellette is a science journalist and author. I came across her brilliant book, Me, Myself, and Why: Searching for the Science of Self , while researching at the library. I decided to take her word on these things when I saw the literal hundreds of people and places she acknowledged in her writing of this book.
She states, “Genes form the biological scaffolding upon which all else is constructed, most noticeably the brain. While we are still in the womb [my emphasis – more on this later!], genes are churning out proteins to regulate body and brain development, and this in turn influences any number of traits.”
Overwhelming? It’s okay…
“If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t.” -Emersch M. Pugh
In 2003 the Human Genome Project opened up the world of our DNA and the Double-Helix to us. Now we have nifty services like 23andMe where you can fill up their cup with your saliva, mail it back to them and they will churn out a report all about you.
Seriously though. From there, it gets even more (haha) mind-blowing…
Next to enter are these players in our Neuro-Stage Play: Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, and Vasopressin. These actors are neurochemicals. And depending on how our genes have engineered our brains to govern the flow, receive, and respond to these chemicals; our personalities have thus been designed!
Chew on that awhile. I’ll come back next week with more on those different players and what they do to us as they dance upon our prefrontal cortex-stage.
Whoo! I’m having fun! Are you?