Robert M. Sapolsky Quotes
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Stress is not a state of mind... it's measurable and dangerous, and humans can't seem to find their off-switch.
We live well enough to have the luxury to get ourselves sick with purely social, psychological stress.
The purpose of science is not to cure us of our sense of mystery and wonder, but to constantly reinvent and reinvigorate it.
An open mind is a prerequisite to an open heart.
But if you get chronically, psychosocially stressed, you're going to compromise your health. So, essentially, we've evolved to be smart enough to make ourselves sick.
The less it is possible that something can be, the more it must be.
Essentially, we humans live well enough and long enough, and are smart enough, to generate all sorts of stressful events purely in our heads.
We all seek out stress. We hate the wrong kinds of stress but when it's the right kind, we love it - we pay good money to be stressed by a scary movie, a roller coaster ride, a challenging puzzle.
What does the frontal cortex do? Gratification postponement, executive function, long-term planning, and impulse control. Basically, it makes you do the harder thing.
If a rat is a good model for your emotional life, you're in big trouble.
What happened in the milliseconds before a behavior to cause it? That's in the neurobiological realm.
Perhaps most excitingly, we are uncovering the brain basis of our behaviors - normal, abnormal and in-between. We are mapping a neurobiology of what makes us us.
Genes are rarely about inevitability, especially when it comes to humans, the brain, or behavior. They're about vulnerability, propensities, tendencies.
The frontal cortex doesn't even fully develop until age 25, which is wild!
How much you groom somebody else is more important than who grooms you.
Depression is not generalized pessimism, but pessimism specific to the effects of one's own skilled action.
The regulation of genes is often more interesting than the genes themselves, and it's the environment that regulates genes.
Some Poor grad student pressing on the flanks of a hamster and out comes a doctorate on the other side
Almost always, genes are about potentials and vulnerabilities rather than about determinism.
To out-group-members, oxytocin makes you crappier - less cooperative and more preemptively aggressive. It's not the luv hormone. It's the in-group parochialism/xenophobia hormone.
Oxytocin is lauded for how it promotes warmth, generosity, social bonding, cooperation, trust, and compassion.
Get it wrong, and we call it a cult. Get it right, in the right time and the right place, and maybe, for the next few millennia, people won't have to go to work on your birthday.
If you care about your longevity and health, be a socially affiliated baboon who is better than high-ranking ones at walking away from provocations.
I had never planned to become a savanna baboon when I grew up; instead, I had always assumed I would become a mountain gorilla.
The fascinating thing about our best and worst behaviors isn't the behavior itself - the brain tells the muscles to do something or other - big deal. It's the meaning of the behavior.
It's great to have a buff frontal cortex to do that harder thing - for example, help a person in need rather buy some useless, shiny gee-gaw.
Only humans invent moralizing gods who monitor our behavior.
We’ve evolved to be smart enough to make ourselves sick.
As long as experiencing your optimal level of good stress doesn't damage others, it's hard to objectively define where normal enjoyment of stimulation becomes adrenaline junkiehood.
Until you appreciate something crucial - It is incredibly easy to manipulate us as to who counts as an Us, who as a Them.
We're getting along so well; I trust you so much for this one second that I'm going to let you yank on me.
Genes are important for understanding our behavior. Incredibly important - after all, they code for every protein pertinent to brain function, endocrinology, etc.
Most of us don't collapse into puddles of stress-related disease.
Naturally, things are more complicated - those groovy, pro-social effects of oxytocin apply to how we interact with in-group members.
Give lab rats oxytocin and, according to that meme, they get better at talking about their feelings and sing like Joan Baez.
Oxytocin is a Teflon hormone - bad news rolls off it.
We are just another primate but a very confused, malleable one.
Hormones influencing the sensitivity of the person to environmental stimuli.
The frontal cortex is an incredibly interesting part of the brain - ours is proportionately bigger and/or more complex than in any other species.
What happened during the minutes before? That's the realm of sensory stimuli of the nervous system.
Importantly, rather than promoting aggression, testosterone promotes whatever is needed to maintain status when challenged.
It's probably even the case that if you stoked up some Buddhist monks with tons of testosterone, they'd become wildly competitive as to who can do the most acts of random kindness.
Individual differences in testosterone level predict very little about differences in aggression.