BIOLOGY OF THE MIND
Univ. of Wisconsin Foundation
This Fund derives from the introduction of an interdisciplinary course
titled "Biology of Mind," developed by Dr. M. Deric Bownds and cross-listed
by the Anthropology, Neurosciences, Psychology, and Zoology departments.
The purpose of this fund is to support the continuing research and scholarship
by Dr. Bownds that is required to update the course and also generate
publications directed at a broad audience. Contributions to the U.W.
Foundation designating the fund will support part-time salaries for research
assistants, acquisition of scholarly publications, and computer expenses.
The Biology of Mind course makes state-of-the-art research on the human
mind accessible to members of both the public and university communities,
requiring as prerequisite only an introductory biology course. It deals
with the evolution of mind, transitions from primate through early hominid
to modern human intelligence, and modern studies of brain mechanisms
underlying vision, emotions, language, memory, and learning.
Until recently the study of mind, consciousness and feelings has been
a subject for philosophy and religion, outside the province of hard science.
This has changed in just the past few years, as advances in anthropology,
animal behavior, evolutionary theory, linguistics, molecular neurobiology,
psychology, and cognitive neuroscience have brought us to the threshold
of resolving questions that have occupied philosophers for millennia:
- How does the human brain generate a "self"?
- What is the nature of the narrative "I" that we experience in our
- What is the relationship between reason and emotion?
- How do genetic and environmental factors interact to determine the
structure of our brains?
Interdisciplinary approaches to these questions are permitting the construction
of models of mind and emotion that are amenable to experimental tests.
Better understanding of the ways in which emotions underlie reason and
of evolutionary forces that have shaped our behavior can inform our approaches
to dealing with rapid cultural and ecological changes in the modern world.
Dr. Bownds obtained his training at Harvard University (B.A., '63; Ph.D.
in Biology, '67). After postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School, he
joined the U.W. Madison faculty, and from 1969 until 2001 was Professor
of Molecular Biology and Zoology, serving as chair of the Zoology department
from 1997-2001. In July 2001 he took Emeritus status and began to devote
his full time effort to the Biology of the Mind
Molecular Biology and Zoology
405 R.M. Bock Labs
1525 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706
Phone: (608) 263-4063