Ted Talk: Speaking

“The Neurons That Shaped Civilization” – Vilayanur Ramachandran,  PhD.



1) Research Project A

2) Debate Topics


Research Project A


The complexity of the human brain, despite its small size, is a commonly stated matter in academia. The brain works more or less on common principles. It has regions responsible for different types of functions and certain brain activities patterns arise for many basic human actions. Despite this, it is evident that we are not all completely alike. This becomes particularly evident when studying various brain disorders.

Research a common psychiatric brain disorder like schizophrenia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or autism (See List Below). Describe the basic symptoms of the disease and any positive or negative side effects.

See what it tells us about the human brain and how we deal with the world around us. Make sure to answer the following questions:

  • Is someone afflicted with one of these disorders always completely disabled?
  • Is their conscious or mental experience different from most other people?
  • When was this disorder established or named? It likely did not exist as a medial diagnosis until recently.
  • How are people with this condition treated?
  • What are the treatments that exist for this disorder?
Schizophrenia Insomnia Bipolar Disorder
Depression Social Anxiety Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Autism Asperger’s Disorder Narcolepsy
Anorexia Nervosa Bulimia Nervosa Tourette’s Disorder
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder


Debate Topics


  • Do you think the human brain is much more sophisticated than other creatures on the Earth? For instance, an elephant never forgets a face and a dolphins have bigger brains proportionally than humans.
  • Why is being able to adopt another person’s point of view so important for learning a task and understanding their thoughts? Why can’t we, as a famous saying goes, “live in our own little worlds?”
  • Will studying the human brain one day truly allow man to explain and understand all human action? It was said in the presentation that the possibility of unique brain activity exceeds the number of elementary particles in the universe. Does that mean we are impossibly complex to understand? Can we not predict human behavior?
  • Why is a sophisticated mirror neuron system are necessary for human thought? Why do we need to adopt another person’s perspective to perform or complete a task?

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