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D We do not have to wait for germ warfare to witness the devastating consequences of manipulating nature for malevolent purposes. Starting with a group of individuals already receptive by virtue of prior experience, and exploiting the natural processes that guide the development of the human brain, the leaders of the terrorists who carried out the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon reengineered an organ shaped by evolution to maximize survival into a biological weapon responsible for thousands of deaths.
Without a resident neurobiologist, sophisticated laboratory facilities, or medical intervention, they were able to alter brain and behavior, simply by taking advantage of the fact that life experiences have physical consequences.
No one knows for certain what went on in the minds of the 19 men responsible for the atrocities of September The Interplay Between Brain and Environment Weighing about three pounds—80 percent of it water—the human brain seems too small and fragile even to contemplate the enormity of the attacks, much less to assume responsibility for them.
Yet crammed into that modest space are billion neurons, each capable of as many asindividual transactions with its neighbors.
Dying to Kill: The Mind of the Terrorist
In those transactions lie the origins of our behavior, our ability to see and hear, move and talk, think and feel, plan and imagine, create and destroy. These changes, in turn, support a new outlook that colors the interpretation of sensory data and shapes new behavioral responses. Violence takes us by surprise, but on a neural level, it is years in the making. Everything from impulsive street crime to coldly plotted crimes against humanity emerges from the sum total of the interactions between the brain and the outside world, providing outward proof that this relationship has been characterized by hostility, disappointment, or frank trauma.
The decision to kill is the result of a developmental process involving nature and nurture, and it begins with the basic will to survive.
In addition to evading predators, it may face threats from members of its own species, not only to its personal safety, but also to the safety of its offspring, its territory, its social status, or its resources. Pushed beyond acceptable limits, against the wrong target, for the wrong reasons, aggression degenerates into violence, an infraction that does little to promote survival, but rather puts victim, perpetrator, and society at grave risk.
If a passenger cambridge united youth kit anti aging a hijacked aircraft overpowers and kills the hijacker, we consider it an act of self-defense. Should the hijacker assault and kill the passenger, though, we call it murder. What is the difference? The hijacker who slaughters an innocent passenger, cambridge united youth kit anti aging, kills a defenseless individual who poses no real threat to him.
His behavior is inappropriate, intolerable, extreme. The ratio between cambridge united youth kit anti aging intensity of the threat and the intensity of the response determines whether or not that response has transgressed the limits of acceptable behavior. When the perception of threat is distorted, behavior is likely to suffer, and aggression erupts into violence.
How Experience Changes the Brain Neural adaptation allows each brain to answer fundamental questions in its own way. Questions relevant to the use of aggression—Is my environment safe? Are you friend or enemy? Human record keepers document their observations in words and numbers. The brain, on the other hand, is a chemical historian; it keeps track of the interactions between the brain and the environment in the language of chemistry, linking neurotransmission to the activity and amount of proteins critical to brain function and structure.
The chemical discussions between neurons, which begin when signal and receptor come together, do not stop at the surface, but continue inside the cell, transmitted by a network of interacting signaling proteins.
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In the short term, signals passed from protein to protein can make immediate adjustments to features like the release of neurotransmitters. In the long term, signals also initiate alterations in gene expression and in levels of the proteins they encode. Neuronal communication, therefore, includes a built-in mechanism for translating experience into changes in the physiology and anatomy of the brain. The brain circuitry underlying emotion encompasses not only subcortical structures like the amygdala, but also more highly developed areas of the cerebral cortex, particularly the frontal and cingulate cortices.
The cortex takes a second look, and adds experiential, analytical, and moral detail that reduce the risk of jumping to irrational conclusions.
Case histories and the functional imaging of brain activity during a task involving moral reasoning suggest that the cortical regions associated with emotion play a critical role in the acquisition and utilization of moral principles. If the dialogue between brain and environment is basically amiable, and the moral standards entered into the cortical database encourage benevolence and disapprove of violence, the process results in a nervous system capable of acceptable behavior.
Threat assessment is accurate, and while behavior toward others may not always be charitable, it respects the limits set by society. Negative experiences, in contrast, send a message that the world is hostile and unfair, distort threat perception, and produce a nervous system prepared for the worst.
For some, every insinuating remark becomes an invitation to quarrel. On a physical level, cambridge united youth kit anti aging touchiness shows up in chronically elevated levels of cortisol and disruptions in serotonin function. Others downshift emotionally, developing a patent disregard for limits, the feelings of others, or the legitimate threat of retaliation.
Without intervention, the vicious circle between brain, behavior, and environment may spiral into violence—hostile outbursts in the case of the overly sensitive, and the cold, premeditated violence experts call antisocial in the case of the insensitive.
Animal and human research reveals that a surprising array of insults can injure neurons and alter brain chemistry, emotional responses, and reactions to stress, not only in childhood, but throughout life.
Disrupting the Cycle that Can Lead to Violence The disgruntled and the disaffected are fertile ground for ruthless ideologues, who supply them with targets to hate and reasons to hurt. Both discover an ally in a vengeful God eager for them to annihilate their enemies. Their formal training further fans anger into rage, strips them of any lingering feelings of guilt or remorse, and conditions them to kill without thinking.
Disrupting the vicious circle that leads to terrorism requires changing the environmental factors that feed it. Development and diplomacy may help to reduce the pool of frustrated, irate individuals susceptible to hate-mongers, but it is not enough.
Unless those who preach violence temper their rhetoric, its toxicity will continue to corrupt the minds and behavior of the vulnerable. Strong words and passionate emotions are an incendiary combination for the human brain. When the words speak of compassion and the emotion is empathy, they can spark acts of tremendous courage.
Words that advocate revenge and stir up feelings of enmity can ignite an inferno. The challenge to those who would inform minds is clear: Which fire will you light? The enormity of the crime transcends any explanation, exceeds any adequate retribution. It is the warning of a trajectory that ultimately threatens to destroy the roots of human civilization. Terrorism is not new, nor is it restricted to any one particular area of the world. In one of its most virulent forms, it slips into the guise of religion.
We cannot know the specific life stories that led 19 fanatical men to board commercial airliners on September 11, armed only with plastic knives, box cutters, and the conviction they were carrying out the will of God as transmitted through their leader. But their monstrous deeds confront us with the ever-present danger that basic human capabilities will be willfully amputated or perverted. We can ask—must ask— what goes wrong in the development of a child and adolescent that can yield the adult capable of such harmful action.
Children in all cultures are born with the same capabilities of mind, and, if given the opportunity, develop physically and psychologically along similar pathways. Knowing more about how the universal capabilities of the human mind develop and how they can be either channeled into a positive direction or diverted into the path of destruction admonishes us to pay great attention to the values and behaviors children are learning and to how positive human behavior can be nurtured throughout life.
Developing these strengths will not eliminate terrorism but will make it a less likely option and will keep open in each of us the door to creative, humanitarian alternatives.
It is during this period that basic social, emotional, and cognitive networks are laid down. Children have an earnest desire to be useful, to help and to participate in reaching a goal.
A distorted or undeveloped sense of empathy can lead to the deliberate infliction of harm, ranging from teasing to outright bullying and acts of physical violence against both people and animals. Communication: Children show a basic need to communicate with others. They not only express their own desires and feelings and retell their own experiences, but also listen and become aware of the thoughts, feelings and stories of others.
A sense of right and wrong: Also apparent even early in childhood is the growing recognition that parents and other caretakers consider certain actions as right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable.
The child gradually adapts his behavior to these standards and, with experience, begins to expand and make them his own. If they are not encouraged to explore multiple solutions and their implicationsthey may retain this behavior later in life.
By preschool, however, children start to become capable of detaching themselves from stereotypes. They begin to judge a person, or a group of persons, not only by their appearance but also by their actions, and to interact with them accordingly.
If this ability is strengthened, children will be less likely to succumb to prejudice. Parents, other caregivers, and world society as a whole are challenged to provide an environment in which these many essential abilities are nurtured.
Hormonal changes during puberty also affect brain metabolism and szemhéjplasztika szemész. Group identity: Membership in a group comes to replace or complement close family bonds. The desire to imitate peers, to be accepted, and to contribute to the welfare of the 30 napos anti aging can attain incredible momentum and, if misdirected, become focused on absolute, blind submission to a leader.
Seeking new ideas: The adolescent not only explores new physical terrain but also eagerly seeks and adopts new ideas, svájci lavinaveszély anti aging out novel strategies. This excitement with the power of ideas can reach a vehemence that clouds reality. In their impatience to act immediately, adolescents may neglect to explore all available options and therefore resort to what seems to them the one and only solution.
Religious fundamentalism, with its narrowly proscribed set of beliefs that must be accepted cambridge united youth kit anti aging faith, can offer what seems a simple, easy, and comprehensible solution to complex svájci öregedésgátló adó-visszatérítés and social problems—to the exclusion of all other options.
Cambridge united youth kit anti aging and adopting values: Because adolescents are capable of more complex thought, they become increasingly interested in the established political, legal, and moral traditions of their society.