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Posts from the ‘Neurobiology’ Category

The Social Brain

Medicine and Science in An Interconnected World

In 1977 George Engel, a psychiatrist, introduced a concept that shifted the medical model away from a strict focus on pathology toward a more nuanced and complex formulation of human illness and health: the biopsychosocial model. What this model promotes it a consideration of the multiple factors that influence a person’s health and well-being, including biological, psychological, and social factors.

Increasingly, since the advent of this idea, healthcare practitioners are moving away from the strict treatment of isolated symptoms and exploring how things like lifestyle, diet, relationship, beliefs, and even the way a person sits while driving a car can impact health. For example, a patient reporting an upset stomach may indicate that the person has contracted a parasite or some kind of infection. But a stomachache may also be a result of too much stress on the job or the outcome of an unresolved fight with a best friend. Within the biopsychosocial model, all of these factors would be examined before a treatment plan would be implemented. This model also exemplifies how influenced we are, as individuals, by those around us: family, friends, colleagues, and even consequential strangers. Rather than being static, isolated bodies that develop disease, the biopsychosocial model focuses on interconnectivity, multiple pathways to both disease and health, and the dynamic nature of human experience. Within this new worldview of medicine, scientific research has demonstrated that our brains are biopsychosocial organs and wire us to those around us into an ever-evolving web of social relations. Our social brains are wired for connection and social interaction.

Neuroscience: The Frontier of the Brain and Mind

At the same time that shifts in the medical model were moving our concepts away from a strict disease model toward focus on prevention and well-being, immense strides in technology enabled medical experts, biologists, neurologists, and social scientists greater access to the study of the brain. During the first half of the twentieth century, in the early years of psychology, the field most concerned with human behavior, experts in both research and clinical practice relied almost exclusively on the concept of behaviorism to explain how and why humans do… Read more