A brief note about a timely article
by Jim Stellar
I just had to break the co-author format and write this note calling your attention to the 10/4/09 New York Times Sunday Magazine article about the anxious mind that largely features the work of Professor Jerry Kagan from Harvard. Here is the link. I urge you to read it as a parallel to what we discuss in this blog.
The article focuses on a longitudinal study of temperament in infants to young adults. At the end, they discuss fMRI (brain activity) and MRI (brain anatomy) studies of the young adults that they followed from infancy. The Amygdala is suggested to be over active in the anxious young adults, but modulated by the medial prefrontal cortex, better in some than in others. Also, the history and psychology of the subjects are seen to play a large role in the expression of anxiety – a nicely subtle point on brain-behavior relationships. Someday, I see an article like this one but on brain-behavior relationships in college-level learning from experiences and from the classroom? Do you? What would it mean?
I also have to mention that I was an Assistant Professor at Harvard, starting in the late 1970s. It was my first job. I was a neuroscientist in a psychology department. I remember being honored and excited to have conversations with the great Jerry Kagan as he was starting to think about his early findings on what endured over years in temperament and the implications for autonomic function, hypothalamus, child rearing, etc.