Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Preparing for the judge by practicing on Mom & Dad: "Sorry. My brain made me do it!"

Here's another newspaper psychology article making sure we all understand that's it is never, EVER, our fault. It's always our brain. Expert: Risky teen behavior is all in the brain. I'm all right, I suppose, with the argument that it's all in the brain, if that's the route you want to go. But if you go there, I'm not sure how you somehow separate the argument into teenagers and adults. Teens' behavior is a result of brain activity, but adults' behavior is not? Psychologist specializing in teens says:

"Kids will sign drug pledges. They really mean that, but when they get in a park on a Friday night with their friends, that pledge is nowhere to be found in their brain structure. They're missing the neurologic brakes that adults have."

Let's apply such an argument to different "risky" behavior undertaken by many an adult. Dennis follows the logic:

Adults will sign marriage contracts. They really mean that, but when they get in a bar on a Friday night without their spouses, that contract is nowhere to be found in the brain structure. Must be they're missing the neurologic brakes that other adults have.

What exactly is the position the article is taking? Teens' behavior is all in the brain. Then...what? Some time around 21 we all develop some metaphysical soul providing free will to overcome our brains?

Listen, I understand what the psychologists/researchers/neuroscientists are saying: The frontal cortex "connects" neurologically to the limbic system as we age, perhaps tempering the emotional "instincts" of the limbic system with some logic & reasoning regulatory functions. But is that what the title of the article is conveying? From this particular perspective, *ALL* risky behavior is in the brain.

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