Wired That Way: The Origins of Human Nature
Tuesday, November 27, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Illustration of human brain with synapses
What makes you the way you are? And what makes each of us different from everyone else? Kevin J. Mitchell, a leading neuroscientist and popular science blogger, traces human diversity and individual differences to their deepest level: in the wiring of our brains. Deftly guiding us through important new research, including his own ground-breaking work, he explains how variations in the way our brains develop before birth strongly influence our psychology and behavior throughout our lives, shaping our personality, intelligence, sexuality, and even the way we perceive the world.
We all share a genetic program for making a human brain, but that program varies considerably among people, based on each individual’s DNA. However, as Mitchell explains, the way that program plays out is also affected by random processes of development that manifest uniquely in each person, even identical twins. He presents his insight on the nature or nurture debate, explaining that it is the combination of developmental and genetic variations that creates innate differences in how our brains are wired. These differences have an impact on all aspects of our psychology and illuminate the interplay of nature and nurture.
He also explores the genetic and neural underpinnings of disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and epilepsy, and how our understanding of these conditions is being revolutionized. In addition, Mitchell examines the social and ethical implications of these ideas and of new technologies that may soon offer the means to predict or manipulate human traits.
His book, Innate: How the Wiring of Our Brains Shapes Who We Are (Princeton University Press) is available for purchase and signing following the program.
Listen to Kevin J. Mitchell’s interview on the Not Old Better podcast with host Paul Vogelzang.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)