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What does it mean to be human? There are many theories of the evolution of human behavior which seek to explain how our brains evolved to support our unique abilities and personalities. Most of these have focused on the role of brain size or specific genetic adaptations of the brain. In contrast, Fred Previc presents a provocative theory that high levels of dopamine, the most widely studied neurotransmitter, account for all major aspects of modern human behavior. He further emphasizes the role of epigenetic rather than genetic factors in the rise of dopamine. Previc contrasts the great achievements of the dopaminergic mind with the harmful effects of rising dopamine levels in modern societies and concludes with a critical examination of whether the dopaminergic mind that has evolved in humans is still adaptive to the health of humans and to the planet in general.Read more
- Studies the age-old questions of what makes us human and how we evolved
- Explores the role of dopamine in terms of basic brain function, brain lateralization, gender differences, autonomic physiology, emotion, clinical disorders, religion, and socio-historical consequences
- Offers a fresh theory that contradicts mainstream thinking in the biological and social sciences
Reviews & endorsements
"One of the challenges of evolutionary theory is to explain how we humans have come to occupy our exalted place on earth. What other species can even begin to speculate on its own evolution? Most accounts have focused on such characteristics as brain size, language, tool use, or cerebral asymmetry. In this extraordinary book, Previc puts the onus on the dopaminergic system, and builds the case from there. Written with enthusiasm and verve, this book will cause us to rethink our ideas about where we came from, and how we got here."
--Michael Corballis, The University of AucklandSee more reviews
"Whether you agree with Fred Previc's theories or not, his astonishingly ambitious history of the role of dopamine in the development of human consciousness is one of the most thought provoking and deeply informed science books I've read in years. A bold synthesis of evolutionary theory, genetics, and musings on war, technology, culture, and mental illness, this book will shake you up and make you see the timeline of human development - and the dynamics of your own mind - in startlingly fresh ways."
--Steve Silberman, Senior Writer for Wired Magazine
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- Date Published: July 2011
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521360890
- length: 226 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
- weight: 0.34kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. What makes humans special?
2. Dopamine in the brain
3. Dopamine and behaviour
4. Dopamine and mental health
5. Evolution of the dopaminergic mind
6. The dopaminergic mind in history
7. Relinquishing the dopaminergic imperative.
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