Deric Bownds

[Biology of Mind Logo]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 heads?
  • 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 Program.
Deric Bownds
Emeritus Professor
Molecular Biology and Zoology

405 R.M. Bock Labs
1525 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Phone: (608) 263-4063

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