The Yale course in the coursera.

The astonishing hypothesis:

You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.

Mind = Brain -> Materialism

Descartes(1596 - 1650) proposed Dualism:

I think, therefore, I am.

Though, the radical bodily changes personal identity. See Phineas Gage.


The Anatomy of Neuron
The Anatomy of Neuron
Dendrites receive signals from other neurons, either excitatory, or inhibitory. The firing takes on axon. They are categorized as: sensory, motor, and interneurons.

The neurons use binary, the continuality comes from the number or frequency of firing.

Parts of Brain

Subcortical structures: medulla, cerebellum, hypothalamus.

Psychology only focus on Cerebral Cortex:

  • Apraxia: problem of doing actions.
  • Agnosia: psychic blindness.
  • Aphasia: speaking issue.
  • Acquired Psychopathy.

Our two brains

Visual Crossover and motor crossover.

The left brain and right brain are connected by corpus callosum.

The mind is a computer: sensory, motor ..

The consciousness, such as subjective experience, qualia.

Sigmund Freud

Unconscious Motivation and unconscious dynamics.

Psychoanalytic division of the mind:

  • Id, animalistic, according to the Pleasure Principle.
  • Ego, pragmatically to reconcile your desire with the society.
  • Superego: internalization of society’s moral standards.

Stage of Development

  1. Oral Stage: birth - 1 year, related to breast feeding.
  2. Anal: 1 - 3 years, pot training poorly.
  3. Phallic: Oedipus Complex.
  4. Latency: 5 - puberty, sexual feelings repressed
  5. Genital: puberty, sexual feelings re-emerged.

Defense Mechanism

  • Displacement: redirect energy to more appropriate target.
  • Sublimation: displacement activities that valued are by society.
  • Projection: reducing anxiety by attributing unacceptable impulses to someone else.
  • Rationalization: reasoning away anxiety-producing thoughts.
  • Regression: retreating to a mode of behavior of earlier stage.
  • Reaction formation: replacing threating wishes with their opposites.

Scientific assessment

Falsifiability. But the core of Freuds, the unconsciousness is intact.

B.F. Skinner

Theory of behaviorism:

  1. Emphasis on learning
  2. Anti-mentalism: stimulation -> response.
  3. No differences across species

Habituation: A decline in the tendency to respond to familiar stimuli.

Classical conditioning: Association between one stimulus and another. Ivan Pavlov.

reinforced trials vs. unreinforced trials.

Instrumental Conditioning: shaping the approximated behaviors by rewarding.

Schedule of reinforcement:

  • fixed ratio
  • variable ratio: slot machine
  • fixed interval
  • variable interval

Scientific assessment of Skinner

  • Emphasis on learning: unlearned knowledge exists.
  • Anti-Mentalist: Observables are discussed in general.
  • No differences across species: animals are different in learning.

Chomsky says the behaviorism false or empty such as the reinforcement is too vague.