Is it possible to be genuinely altruistic?
What does the latest neuroscience reveal about what’s really driving our decisions and behaviour?
How can twin studies help us finally resolve the nature vs nurture debate?
These are just some of the questions the speakers will explore at The Weekend University this month.
New breakthroughs in the fields of epigenetics, neuroscience, and developmental psychology are beginning to show that our basic nature is a lot more mysterious, complex, and interesting than we previously thought.
By developing a greater understanding of the roots of your behaviour, it can empower you to break the negative patterns in your life, improve your relationships with others, and gain better control over what you do, and ultimately, who you become.
In this lecture series, we’ll explore some of the deepest questions at the core of being human, with talks on:
You’ll learn how these insights can improve your own emotional intelligence and wellbeing, and how to help others do the same.
For a full breakdown of the lectures, speakers (and their reading recommendations) emailed to your inbox, please click here.
Dr Music will examine how early experiences, secure attachments, and safe environments can lead to more altruistic, prosocial, and empathic ways of acting while stress, trauma, and neglect can lead to more aggression, callousness, and antisocial behaviour. He will examine what current research and clinical understandings can teach us about living a Good Life. Why might we, and the children or adults, act selfishly and antisocially? Are we born selfish or cooperative and what might sway us in either direction? How do both stress-inducing family contexts and competitive social and economic environments undermine our capacity to feel safe, experience well-being, or care much for ourselves or others? How does a consumerist, materialist ethos, as well as the challenges posed by the cyber-age and increasingly speeded up lives have an impact? This talk will draw on lessons from developmental science, neurobiology, psychoanalysis, and mindfulness to examine the links between feeling good and being good, and generally ponder the Good Life.
Dr Graham Music, PhD is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at the Tavistock Centre and an adult Psychotherapist in private practice. Formerly Associate Clinical Director of the Tavistock Clinic’s Child and Family Department, he works at the Portman as a forensic psychotherapist, and his clinical experience has for decades been mainly with trauma. He has developed and managed a range of services working with the aftermath of child maltreatment and neglect. He supervises and teaches nationally and internationally, and has a particular interest in linking cutting-edge developmental findings with therapeutic practice. His publications include Nurturing Children: From Trauma to Hope (2019), Nurturing Natures: (2016, 2010), Affect and Emotion (2001), The Good Life: (2014) and his newly published book titled Respark: Igniting hope and joy after trauma and depression (2022), as well as co-editing From Trauma to Harming Others (2021).
So many of us believe that we are free to shape our own destiny. But what if free will doesn’t exist? What if our lives are largely predetermined, hardwired in our brains – and our choices over what we eat, whom we fall in love with, even what we believe are not real choices at all?
Neuroscience is challenging everything we think we know about ourselves, revealing how we make decisions and form our own reality, unaware of the role of our unconscious minds. Did you know, for example, that:
— Anxieties and phobias can be carried across generations in a family?
— Your genes and pleasure and reward receptors in your brain will shape how much you eat?
— We can sniff out ideal partners with genes that give our offspring the best chance of survival?
In this talk, leading neuroscientist Hannah Critchlow will draw vividly from everyday life and other experts in their field to show the extraordinary potential as well as dangers which come with being able to predict our likely futures – and looking at how we can alter what’s in store for us.
Lucid, illuminating, awe-inspiring, this talk will revolutionise your understanding of who you are – and empower you to help shape a better future both for yourself and the wider world.
Dr Hannah Critchlow, PhD is an internationally acclaimed neuroscientist based at the University of Cambridge, who specialises in demystifying the human brain on Radio, TV and at Festivals. Dr Critchlow helped present BBC’s Tomorrow’s World Live and BBC2 -The Family Brain Games, published ‘Consciousness: A Ladybird Expert Guide’ with Penguin and The Science of Fate with Hodder in May 2019, which made The Sunday Times Bestseller list.
In 2019, Hannah was named by Nature as one of Cambridge University’s ‘Rising Stars in Life Sciences’ in recognition for achievements in science engagement. She was also elected member of the prestigious European Dana Alliance of the Brain and joined the judging panel for the prestigious Wellcome Trust Science book Prize for 2018.
Dr Critchlow’s work in science communication was named as a Top 100 UK scientist by the Science Council in 2014 and one of Cambridge University’s most ‘inspirational and successful women in science’ in 2013. While completing her PhD, Hannah was awarded a Cambridge University Fellowship and as an undergraduate received three University Prizes as Best Biologist.
The comparative study of identical and fraternal twins is a powerful method for identifying the relative contributions of genes and environments to individual differences in behavioral, physical, and health-related characteristics. Studies of reared-apart twins provide even more compelling ways to approach this same class of questions, given that the co-twins were raised in different homes, communities and/or countries, so were unable to influence one another.
This talk first reviews the different types of twins and the logic behind twin designs before presenting findings from past, recent and current studies of twins who grew up separately. Here, the focus will be on the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart and the Fullerton Study of Chinese Twins; however, research using reared together twins, virtual twins (same-age-unrelated individuals reared together who replicated twinship but without a genetic link) and unrelated look-alikes will also be described with reference to family relations, tacit coordination, personality similarity, and bereavement.
The vast body of evidence indicates that genetic influence is pervasive, affecting virtually every measured human trait, but environmental factors also play a role. The occasional abuse of twin studies must be recalled to prevent their future occurrence.
Prof. Nancy L. Segal, PhD is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Twins Studies Center at California State University, Fullerton. She has authored over 250 articles and six books on twins; her seventh book, Deliberately Divided: Inside the Controversial Study of Twins and Triplets Adopted Apart was released in November 2021. Dr. Segal’s 2012 book, Born Together-Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study, won the 2013 William James Book Award from the American Psychological Association. She was a speaker at a TedX event in Manhattan Beach, California (2017), and delivered invited addresses at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2018) and the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences, in Florence, Italy (2019). She was also an invited participant in a debate on parenting organized by Intelligence Squared in New York City (2019). Dr. Segal’s work has been featured in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. She has appeared on national and international television and radio programs, including The Today Show, 20/20, Long Lost Lives, AirTalk (NPR) and Hidden Brain (NPR). Dr Segal can be contacted via email on: firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can learn more about her work on: drnancysegaltwins.org
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