Who Shapes Our Personalities?

By Dov Michaeli

Posted 11/14/11 on The Doctor Weighs In

Incredulous Dov

This question was, and still is, the subject of debate among philosophers, neuroscientists and psychologists. Do we have free will?

In that case it is primarily us who shape our own personality. And if neuroscientists’ contention that free will is just an illusion, then what are the factors that contribute to our personality? Not surprisingly, our mothers have a major effect on who we become in later life.

Music’s effect on the baby’s brain

What does music have to do with motherhood? I am using music as a “hook”, as an entréto studies showing the influence of pregnant mothers on the fetus.

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Survival and Music

By Dov Michaeli

Survival and music? I am sure your reaction is some variation on ‘give me a break!’ Well, read on and you’ll be surprised.

By now every fifth grader has heard about the limbic system in the brain. But in case you already forgot, it is a system of highly interconnected brain structures that integrates stimuli of emotional content and coordinates reactions to those stimuli. For instance, the structure called the amygdala (see picture on the right) receives stimuli that have to do with survival, and it engenders reactions to them, such as fear and aggression (the familiar flight or fight response). The limbic system also contains the nucleus accumbens which has to do with reward. If you are an ape and an attractive female telegraphs her receptivity to sexual intercourse, it makes a certain area in your brain secrete copious amounts of dopamine which in turn arouses the nucleus accumbens, and you.

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