The film that we watched discusses the brain from many different angles, giving us a little peak into the whole new wealth of knowledge that has been discovered about the human mind fairly recently. Of course, there are always complex implications of such knowledge. For example, the section about the Navy Seals, though it could seem traumatizing and endangering, the training they go through now that they understand the brain helps better prepare them for what they will have to face. When we know how the brain works naturally, does this mean we should be working counter what we have evolved to do? Could there be negative repercussions of this?
The film made many claims, mostly from cited studies or experiments. In fact, they even showed us how they study the brain of prison inmates in that particular study. However, some of the studies were not completely reliable. For example, the study of the brain during sex only had 24 subjects. That doesn’t seem like nearly enough to make strong claims about the difference between men and women.
When discussing how knowledge is stored, they really seemed to villanize fear, making the amygdala red and pulsing. It seemed like the rest of the brain was trying to overcome this in order to make use of knowledge, or that the rest of the brain was more knowledgeable. Perhaps, base emotions are just a different kind of knowledge?
Of course, within studies there are naturally going to be problems. I think that something that wasn’t really addressed within the film was assumptions and biases when studying psychopaths, specifically serial killers. Because they’ve done such horrible things, we want them to be completely different from us, perhaps having actually physical different brains. Since we didn’t see very much about the data compiled, we can’t assume this had any effect on the study, but it is something to think about. In addition, the conclusion that they drew from the sex study seemed really problematic to me. First, of course, there is the limited subject bank. Secondly, the idea that early humans were killed off so frequently during sex that males retaining more brain function would be a trait advantageous enough to evolve is hard to believe. I think that until more testing is done into the area, confirming hypotheses is difficult.
I think that when we talk about the brain and learning more about it, ethics naturally comes up. If one out of a hundred people are psychopaths, should we be doing more psychological testing on individuals? Should this information be necessary when, for example, applying for a job? Should individuals be required to undergo psychological testing? How private should this information be?
Of course, it is inevitable that a film such as this will only bring up more questions. The film focused a lot on the amygdala and how it processes fear. However, I wondered if more complex emotions than fear were also processed through this center of the brain. If not, what center are they processed through and how does this interact with the amygdala?