5 Behaviors Explained by Neuroscience

The daily behaviors explained by neuroscience show us that the mind and the body form an indivisible unit. At the same time, they show that human behavior can not be understood only in terms of the biological.

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There are several daily behaviors explained by neuroscience that refer us to the high complexity of the human being. Every time we advance more in the study of those biological mechanisms that are present in the actions, thoughts and feelings of human beings, but at the same time many mysteries remain.

In particular, there are some behaviors that we see as normal, but which, from a physiological point of view, involve enormous complexity. They also account for the highest expressions of the human brain. Therefore, the subject is fascinating and has attracted the attention of many scientists.

“Biology gives you a brain… life turns it into a mind”.

-Jeffrey Eugenides-

However, the daily behaviors explained by neuroscience are not exhausted in this biological illustration. The human body is biological, but also symbolic. The brain means that we are not pure anatomy, since it constitutes a highly elaborated nervous network, which gives rise to something more than a pure and hard matter. This is clear in what science says about the following behaviors.

1. Blush

The blush is one of those daily behaviors explained by neuroscience, at least from the physiological point of view. And we say “at least”, because until now science has not been able to elucidate why we blush. We are the only species that turns red and so Darwin spoke of the blush as “the most human of the expressions”.

Science says that in a situation of shame, the body releases adrenaline. This causes the blood vessels to dilate to facilitate blood flow and oxygen circulation. The veins in the face dilate and allow more blood to pass than normal. There appears the blush. From the psychological point of view, it corresponds to feeling betrayed.

2. Kissing, one of the daily behaviors explained by neuroscience

The kiss is not a universal expression, that is, it is not present in all cultures, although it is present in many. Some primates, such as chimpanzees and bonobos, also kiss. However, the function that fulfills the kiss between these is reconciliation, exclusively. Also, do not press the lips together, or exchange saliva.

In the human being the matter is different. Male saliva contains a protein called darcina, which depends on testosterone. The presence of this protein allows the female to identify which is the most suitable male for reproduction. At the same time, menstruation and ovulation cause the woman’s breath to change. In the kiss, the man catches it and knows when a female is more apt to procreate.

3. Be generous

A study carried out in the Department of Psychology of the University of Lubeck, Germany, set out to establish which were the brain mechanisms that intervened in the generous behaviors. They started from the idea that altruism is not only the product of education, but also corresponded to a biological mechanism.

After carrying out an experiment with volunteers, they managed to establish that the most generous people have two characteristics. One, they have more activity in an area known as temporoparietal junction (TPJ, for its acronym in English). And two, that that zone had in them a strong connection with the striated nucleus, a relevant element in the feeling of happiness. The human being is genetically equipped to be sociable.

4. Biting the nails

Biting the nails is another of those everyday behaviors explained by neuroscience, although it is seen as irrational. It is known that up to 30% of the adult population has this type of behavior. Among children the percentage is even higher. In principle, this habit obeys a mechanism to release tension. This tension generates a surplus of energy, which decreases when biting the nails.

Now, some experiments carried out with mice, showed interesting data. After going through the same labyrinth several times, these animals found a way to cross it and learn it. Then they continued carrying out the same route always. When this happened, in the striatum the brain waves were slower. In other words, the habit calms down, helps regulate the available energy.

5. Cry

There are still several enigmas around human Tears are another of those everyday behaviors explained by neuroscience, but only partially. First we must be clear that there are physiological tears and emotional tears. The first are those that appear when, for example, we peel an onion. The second ones take place when we are under certain affective states.

According to William H. Frey, a biochemist at St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center in Minnesota, emotional tears carry some components such as manganese, potassium chloride, prolactin, endorphins, adenocorticotropin, and leucine-enkephalin out of the body. By taking away those components, emotional tension decreases. However, Dutch expert Ad Vingerhoets says that crying is a way of expressing helplessness, an instinctive call for help.

The brain remains a mysterious reality, about which science has barely advanced. Although there are many novelties around the daily behaviors explained by neuroscience, we are still far from reaching a full understanding of many phenomena.