Human Behavioural Biology

In my opinion, Robert Sapolsky of Stanford University is one of the most compelling lecturers I’ve ever encountered.  His course on Human Behavioural Biology addresses the links between neural functioning and behaviour.  His work on stress and depression are critically important as a point of departure for anyone involved in clinical work on these issues or for anyone suffering from stress or depression.  For years I used his National Geographic video called Stress in my Sociology classes to show how class distinctions affect even biological functions and can cause poor health and early death.  In this film he compares Olive baboons in Kenya to people working in the British bureaucracy in Whitehall.  He notes that the higher one is in the social structure in terms of power and prestige, the less one is stressed out and the less one shows the characteristic signs of stress like the use of medications and the loss of work productivity, often involving long absences from work on sick leave.  It’s happened to me. I twice took long periods of leave due to stress at work.  I know of what he speaks.  The feelings of frustration and impotence are extreme when we are faced with lots of responsibility and no or little authority.

Sapolsky’s entire course on Human Behavioural Biology is made availably by Stanford University on YouTube.  There’s probably 20 hours of lecture material here, but worth every minute of it.  Your TV could not be put to better use.  Enjoy!