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Origins of the Human Mind

Origins of the Human Mind

Professor Stephen P. Hinshaw Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley

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Origins of the Human Mind

Origins of the Human Mind

Professor Stephen P. Hinshaw Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley
Course No.  1663
Course No.  1663
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Course Overview

About This Course

24 lectures  |  31 minutes per lecture

For thousands of years, the human mind has been shrouded in mystery. Elusive in nature, the subject has prompted an intensive study of several puzzling questions about what the mind is, what it's made of, how it works, and how it differs from our brains. With the latest advancements in both our understanding of the brain and the technology we use to look inside it, scientists have vastly improved their understanding of the human mind. Now, more so than at any other point in human history, we can better explain and describe

  • how the human mind has evolved, both on the scale of our entire species from the dawn of humanity to the present, and on the individual level from birth to adulthood;
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For thousands of years, the human mind has been shrouded in mystery. Elusive in nature, the subject has prompted an intensive study of several puzzling questions about what the mind is, what it's made of, how it works, and how it differs from our brains. With the latest advancements in both our understanding of the brain and the technology we use to look inside it, scientists have vastly improved their understanding of the human mind. Now, more so than at any other point in human history, we can better explain and describe

  • how the human mind has evolved, both on the scale of our entire species from the dawn of humanity to the present, and on the individual level from birth to adulthood;
  • the ways our genes and environments work together to mold the people we become;
  • the sources, symptoms, and potential treatment methods for debilitating mental disorders such as depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and autism;
  • why our intensely social species has the dynamic capability to both ostracize and empathize with the humanity of our fellow individuals; and much more.

Despite its mysterious nature, the human mind and its complexities lie at the heart of who we are as human beings. It shapes our everyday lives and defines our individual personalities. And grasping both the mind's scientific origins and its biological workings is essential to any well-rounded understanding of possible answers to questions that have fascinated and perplexed humanity throughout history.

Origins of the Human Mind is your authoritative guide to the latest information and viewpoints on what neurobiologists, psychologists, and other scientists know about this fascinating subject. These 24 intriguing and enlightening lectures lay bare the inner workings of our minds—and it's all brought to you by award-winning Professor Stephen P. Hinshaw, an instructor whose training as a clinical psychologist straddles both the science of the mind and its impact on individual lives. His comprehensive and unbiased approach to this subject reveals how the science of the human mind applies to the life of our species—and to your own life as well.

Explore the Mind on Two Fascinating Scales

So what, exactly, is the human mind? Our minds, according to Professor Hinshaw, are not disembodied entities completely separate from our brains. Rather, they are a rich, diverse, and utterly complex set of mental and emotional experiences that originate in our brains and interact with our surrounding environment.

Grasping such a concept might seem like a daunting task, but Professor Hinshaw's approach is methodical, organized, and compelling. The foundation of Origins of the Human Mind lies in its exploration of theories about how the mind works on two key scales, each of which offers its own fascinating insights into how and why our minds operate the way they do:

  • The evolutionary scale (phylogeny): This scale offers you a captivating window into how minds evolved over hundreds of millions of years and led to the development of brain plasticity, intense emotional bonds, complex executive functions, the potential for culture and invention, and more.
  • The individual scale (ontogeny): This scale shows you how changes made on an evolutionary level unfold throughout a single human lifespan, from infancy to adolescence to adulthood to advancing old age.

Examining these scales in depth—and together—allows you to notice similarities and differences in viewpoints and approaches that you wouldn't get from an intense focus on one or the other. It also demonstrates how viewing the development of the mind on a large and small scale simultaneously provides us with the best possible picture about what the mind truly is.

Get Answers to Provocative Scientific Questions

But what makes Origins of the Human Mind so essential to your grasp of contemporary scientific issues are the answers that Professor Hinshaw provides to some of the most provocative questions involved in the study of the human mind:

  • What roles do the building blocks of the brain—such as neurons, synapses, and neurotransmitters—play in operating both the normal and abnormal human mind?
  • Is your mind genetically predisposed to act the way it does, or is it shaped by your environment and upbringing?
  • If mental disorders like depression and schizophrenia are so harmful, why haven't the maladaptive genes that cause them been bred out through natural selection?
  • Why is there such a long period of helplessness required for full brain maturation, and why does the majority of brain development occur after birth?
  • How different, if at all, are the cognitive skills and behavioral patterns of men and women?

Some of the conclusions reached by today's scientists may simply confirm what you've always intuitively suspected. Others may challenge what you thought you knew about your mind. In all instances, however, these answers bring you closer than ever to scientific frontiers we've only recently discovered.

Discover the Humanity behind the Science of the Mind

Professor Hinshaw has made a career of studying the human mind from multiple points of view. Yet it's his background in clinical psychology, his distinguished career as a scientist, and his position as Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, that make him an invaluable guide through the often perplexing territory of the human mind.

His ability to make clear sense of a range of scientific topics (including evolution, behavioral genetics, and neurobiology), combined with his ability to distill the humanity hidden within grand scientific theories and concepts, makes these lectures as compassionate as they are comprehensive. Whether discussing the development of emotions and instincts, comparing the 21st-century human brain to that of its primitive ancestor, or even relating his own family's personal struggles with mental illness, Professor Hinshaw always avoids turning this course into a dry accumulation of facts and data devoid of personal meaning.

Instead, he's crafted Origins of the Human Mind to be a multifaceted look at one of the hottest subjects in the scientific world. And while more work needs to be done until we finally solve the riddles of our minds, by the conclusion of the last lecture you'll find yourself better prepared to understand the discoveries of tomorrow as they arise.

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24 Lectures
  • 1
    Brains and Minds, Evolution and Development
    Professor Hinshaw lays the groundwork for this fascinating journey into the depths of the human mind by introducing the structure of the course, posing a series of provocative questions, and explaining the three predominant perspectives on our minds: the spirit-based, the naturalistic, and the humanistic. x
  • 2
    How the Human Brain Works
    Delve into the make-up and inner workings of the brain, from the level of the individual neuron to the larger regions specialized for the mind's different functions. In addition, get a brief introduction to psychopharmacology, as well as to some of the latest technological advances that help us understand how our brains work. x
  • 3
    Development of the Human Brain
    This lecture examines the ways in which our brains develop across the human lifespan. Professor Hinshaw uses a case study of children adopted from horribly deprived Romanian orphanages to focus on brain plasticity—the idea that changes in the brain result from experiences—and its potential long-term limitations. x
  • 4
    Evolution and the Brain
    How did evolutionary forces shape our brains? Discover the answer to this core question in modern science with a look at some of the key features of the human mind produced by natural selection and the ways the brain evolved over the span of millions of years. x
  • 5
    Psychological Views of the Mind
    Zero in on two modern psychological theories of the mind that serve as counterpoints to the evolutionary theory: the instinctive and deeply symbolic psychodynamic theory, and social learning theory, which explains behavior through our minds' abilities to learn. In addition, address mysteries about human consciousness and self-awareness. x
  • 6
    Instinct, Learning, and Emotion
    Take an in-depth look at instinct and emotion—two inescapable processes of the human mind. Among the intriguing issues covered in this lecture are the relationship between instinct and language formation, how our primary emotions signal our experiences and intentions to others, and ways we can consciously regulate their expression. x
  • 7
    Microevolution, Culture, and the Brain
    Return to the evolutionary theory and investigate the key concepts and debates regarding the shaping of the human mind. How have subtle—yet powerful—changes given the modern mind some of its key powers? What are the differences between primate and human brains? And what is the influence of cultural behaviors and values? x
  • 8
    Infancy—Temperament and Attachment
    In the first of four lectures on the development of a mind across the human lifespan, examine the first life stage: infancy. The two aspects you cover—temperament and attachment—are crucial for the development of personalities and minds and reflect the importance of the earliest years of life. x
  • 9
    Childhood—Stages and Widening Contexts
    Turn now to childhood, the second major stage of life during which our personalities and minds develop even further. It is during this stage, you learn, that factors such as families, peers, neighborhoods, and cultures work with our earliest biological and social foundations to mold the person we eventually become. x
  • 10
    Adolescence—Rebellion, Identity, and Self
    Continue moving up the developmental ladder into adolescence: the crucial period of rebellion, turmoil, and identity formation that prepares us for adult life. How does the mind change during this time? What are the dangers of sleep deprivation? And what are considered normative and healthy self-perceptions? x
  • 11
    Adulthood—Aging, Horizons, and Wisdom
    Does getting older predict inevitable declines in how your mind functions? Or could you actually become wiser and more positive as you age? The answers you uncover in this lecture are undoubtedly fascinating—and may just reshape your views of what aging does to the mind. x
  • 12
    Influences of Sex and Gender
    Focus here on the association between sex and gender, on the one hand, and the brain and mind, on the other. Of vital importance to the study of the human mind, sex and gender have important implications for evolution, our diversity as a species, and our social relationships. x
  • 13
    Parallels between Development and Evolution
    Bring together several core points about individual development of the mind. As you'll discover, in the development of the minds of both individuals and our species as a whole, biology constantly interacts with environment and context to produce a wealth of change. x
  • 14
    Myths and Realities of Heritability
    With the mapping of the human genome, we now know that many traits and facets of the mind are more heritable than we once thought. In this lecture, Professor Hinshaw separates the facts from myths about how much importance our genes have in shaping our emotions, behaviors, and minds. x
  • 15
    Genes and Environments Together
    Move from behavior genetics to a detailed view of how genes and environments influence once another to shape our minds. By examining the ways genes and environments correlate and interact, you realize that the dichotomy of nature versus nurture is inaccurate; instead, it is nature and nurture. x
  • 16
    The Abnormal Mind—What Goes Wrong?
    Why do some minds suffer mental disorders such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and bipolar disorder? Answer this crucial question by exploring seven different perspectives—each of which contributes to our overall understanding of this pressing question in the study of the human mind. x
  • 17
    Rationality, Psychosis, and Schizophrenia
    Schizophrenia is intimately involved with breakdowns in perception, rational thinking, and higher-order executive functions. Here, examine the roots of psychosis and make sense of the risk factors, characteristics, and treatment methods of one of the most devastating mental illnesses. x
  • 18
    Emotion Regulation and Mood Disorders
    The roots of mood disorders lie in the emotional and mood-related fluctuations that we all experience. After you learn the difference between emotions and moods, you take a closer look at the science of two major mood disorders: depression and bipolar disorder. x
  • 19
    Attention, Impulse Control, and ADHD
    Turn now to a mental disorder that can affect the way the mind stays attentive and controls inhibitions: attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Examine four forms of attention and the importance of inhibitory control, then zero in on the causes and conditions of—as well as treatment options for—ADHD. x
  • 20
    Empathy, Social Connections, and Autism
    Major difficulties in emotional and social connections with other people present huge problems for the development of the mind. Case in point: autism. Conclude your look at abnormalities in the human mind with a focus on this often-devastating and increasingly prevalent disorder. x
  • 21
    Evolution and the Paradox of Mental Illness
    If mental disorders are passed through the generations by genes, then why haven't these disabling and maladaptive conditions simply been bred out of existence? Investigate how understanding 'heterozygote superiority,' gene interactions, and changing environments can help us finally answer this baffling question. x
  • 22
    Roots of Religion, Aggression, and Prejudice
    Investigate how evolution helps us understand these three wider aspects of human culture. Why are humans so prone to be religious? How aggressive are we as a species? How can natural selection help us understand why some people stigmatize their fellow humans? x
  • 23
    Bringing in Personal Narratives
    Personal narratives can play key roles in humanizing and helping us better understand the complexities of mental illness. As a powerful example, Professor Hinshaw details his own father's struggle with bipolar disorder —a story that proves just how important it is to blend the scientific and clinical with the personal. x
  • 24
    The Future of the Human Mind
    In this final lecture, probe some of the fascinating possibilities and ethical issues at the frontiers of the human mind. These include harnessing the hidden and untapped power of our unconscious; making startling advancements in the development of artificial intelligence; and creating the potential for humans to engineer their own minds. x

Lecture Titles

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Stephen P. Hinshaw
Ph.D. Stephen P. Hinshaw
University of California, Berkeley
Dr. Stephen P. Hinshaw is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, where his teaching was honored with the Distinguished Teaching Award from the College of Letters and Sciences. He earned his A.B. from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Before joining the faculty at Berkeley in 1990, Professor Hinshaw was a clinical psychology intern at UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Institute, a post-doctoral fellow at the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute of the University of California, San Francisco (where he received the Robert E. Harris Award), and a professor at UCLA. A fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and the American Psychological Association, Professor Hinshaw focuses on developmental psychopathology, with particular emphases on child and adolescent disorders. He is the editor of Psychological Bulletin, the most cited journal in the entire field of psychology, and associate editor of the journal Development and Psychopathology; he has also written more than 200 scholarly articles, chapters, and reviews. Among his many books are Attention Deficits and Hyperactivity in Children and The Years of Silence Are Past: My Father's Life with Bipolar Disorder. Professor Hinshaw has received millions of dollars in research grants from federal agencies, including the National Institute of Mental Health.
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Reviews

Rated 4.3 out of 5 by 25 reviewers.
Rated 5 out of 5 by Origins of teh Human Mind I thoroughly enjoyed Professor Hinshaw's presentation of this course. I enjoyed learning about the mind/brain. I did feel that the focus was on the brain more than the mind, if indeed they are different substances. There are some amazing facts about the brain, and I also learned what can go wrong with the brain when it malfunctions, as I am diagnosed schizophrenic and there was a lecture devoted purely to that topic. So thumbs up from me. Recommended! August 19, 2014
Rated 1 out of 5 by Underwhelming One of the shallowest presentations I've ever experienced from the Teaching Company. For perspective, I have over twenty-five courses, most of which I've enjoyed. Professor Hinshaw references evolution as a faultless explanation but is remarkably mum when evolutionary inconsistencies arise. For example, he cites research saying that children of African heritage respond paradoxically well to authoritarian parenting and then offers slavery and the never-out-of-date racism (which are of relatively short duration) as explanations. He considers gender differences a minefield more powerful than intellectual bravery. He touts as "fascinating" the recent research on functional neuroimaging -- a topic I can find more clearly described on a newsstand. His hero worship of anyone having a degree from Berkeley or Harvard is no surprise (one man is lionized because he refused to sign a loyalty oath in the 50s). Indeed the two institutions explain the narrowness of his perspective. Cut this class and get some of sleep. July 6, 2014
Rated 3 out of 5 by Oh hum DVD review. Even though biological systems are a constant "in-the-moment" interplay between genetic potential and shifting environments, the word "origin" conjures images of grand explanations. This is not what we get with Dr. Hinshaw's ORIGINS OF THE HUMAN MIND. It is instead a quick sprint through a series of interrelated subjects. • NEUROLOGY: Being concerned with "mind" rather than "brain", he sees no one-on-one correlation between specific regions of the brain and the many components that contribute to our sense of self. Yes, the hippocampus plays a huge role in memory management, for example, but even here, memory functions are spread across many brain regions. Hinshaw speculates neurology may require a large paradigm shift like physics had with relativity to move forward on self. • EVOLUTION: The focus here is the mind's modularity and the progress from instinct to learning. Is culture — a socially-created virtual environment — capable of directing our evolution or "microevolution"? This section left me confused as to his ultimate point. • INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT: Infancy, childhood, adolescence, maturity, old age, gender differences, etc. A general overview of the latest research conclusions. At this point, there is so much slipping back and forth between "mind" and "brain" that the doubts expressed in the neurology section are forgotten. The brain is the mind or at least the visible part of it. • HERITABILITY, THE GENE-ENVIRONMENT INTERPLAY AND MENTAL ILLNESS: 8 lessons are devoted to a wide range of mental disorders leaving us with many hurried conclusions. This is a huge subject as a quarter of mankind, regardless of country or race, suffers moderate to strong symptoms of mental illness. Implicit too are puzzles about evolution. Given the negative consequences of mental illness on physical survival or at least reproductive success, why are "bad genes" so prevalent in the population? Hinshaw offers only a glimpse of the subject for lack of space. • RELIGION, AGRESSIVITY, PRO-SOCIAL BEHAVIOR, FUTURE RESEARCH TRENDS: Probably the skimpiest part of the course. A dash in every which direction. In effect, this is a survey course on a variety of psychology sub-disciplines related to brain and mind. It is well-designed for TTC clients already familiar with basic neurology as presented in courses such as UNDERSTANDING THE BRAIN or NEUROSCIENCE OF EVERYDAY LIFE. Psychology neophytes therefore will almost certainly find either of these two courses more satisfactory than ORIGINS. If neurology or mental illness are secondary to practical behavior analysis for you, then UNDERSTANDING THE MYSTERIES OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR is your best choice. PRESENTATION was adequate, but I often found myself drifting off; a rare occurrence in my experience of TTC courses. This reflects my inadequacies I am sure. I loved the three other courses I mentioned (especially UNDERSTANDING), not this one. CDs or audio downloads should be sufficient. The guidebook is OK. For more advanced psychology enthusiasts. February 3, 2013
Rated 4 out of 5 by Interesting and informative I rented this from the library. I agree with some of the other reviewers who mentioned that there are not enough visuals to make this course worth spending the money for the DVD. The Professor is a great speaker but has some strange body movements that I found very distracting on the DVD version. That said, I found the topics presented very interesting and the information quite up-to-date. II found the material about evolution relates to the development of prejudice, ADHD, and other mental conditions very thought-provoking. December 15, 2012
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