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Pally, R. (1997). I: How Brain Development Is Shaped By Genetic And Environmental Factors: Developments in related fields Neuroscience. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:587-593.

(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:587-593

I: How Brain Development Is Shaped By Genetic And Environmental Factors: Developments in related fields Neuroscience

Regina Pally

We have entered an era of extraordinary discovery about the human brain. Old notions of dichotomy between mind versus brain, nature versus nurture, have been supplanted by a rich web of synergistic relations between mind and brain, nature and nurture. Specifically, according to modern neuroscience, this means that all mental phenomena are assumed to be the result of biological activity of neuronal circuits in the brain. The development of these circuits relies in part on genetic programmes, but is also heavily dependent on the individual's experiences with the environment.

Recognition of the remarkable degree to which brain development is experience-dependent is a striking example of how neuroscience can be integrated with psychoanalysis. These ideas can be considered to lend support to analytic assumptions that early developmental experiences shape subsequent psychological functioning. It is with the aim of integrating the two fields that I present a series of brief articles that are designed to provide a schematic overview of neuroscience topics that are relevant to the theory and practice of psychoanalysis. The series offers a global perspective. In this way the reader will not only know facts about brain functions, but be able to think conceptually about how these functions operate with one another and how they may inform us about our analytic work.

For some, this way of considering ‘The Mind’ may be rather foreign and difficult to accept. However, as Olds & Cooper in their recent editorial on the value of neuroscience for psychoanalysis recommend: ‘We should at least understand what we are being offered, before deciding whether or not’ it is profitable to us (1997p.

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