The ancients believed that the ‘I’ in the mind is a reflection of the body. Just as athletes and sports people develop muscle memory, the bodymind retains the imprints of experiences that shape your memories, emotions and desires, which in turn form the basis of your conscious and sub-conscious choices and actions. Who you are is a reality of your own making.

Aside from drugs, sleep deprivation, extreme physical experiences or direct physical interference, nothing or no one can reach into your head and make you do or believe something against your will – all your beliefs and actions are a result of choices you make, knowingly or unknowingly, based on long held beliefs or reasoned, considered thought. The world is not simply and only something ‘out there’, you construct a view of and feelings about something ‘out there’ and make sure it suits the feeling you want or allow yourself to have about it at that moment and in that situation.

Neuroscience is a fast developing field that explores this aspect of who we are.

A very good guide is  Neuroscience of Self and Self-Regulation by Todd F. Heatherton

As a social species, humans have a fundamental need to belong that encourages behaviors consistent with being a good group member. Being a good group member requires the capacity for self-regulation, which allows people to alter or inhibit behaviors that would place them at risk for group exclusion. Self-regulation requires four psychological components. First, people need to be aware of their behavior so as to gauge it against societal norms. Second, people need to understand how others are reacting to their behavior so as to predict how others will respond to them. This necessitates a third mechanism, which detects threat, especially in complex social situations. Finally, there needs to be a mechanism for resolving discrepancies between self-knowledge and social expectations or norms, thereby motivating behavior to resolve any conflict that exists. This article reviews recent social neuroscience research on the psychological components that support the human capacity for self-regulation.


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    Staining for RAD51 (bright cyan-colored dot) in a fertilized one-cell mouse embryo shows repair of a CRISPR-induced DNA break.
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    Researchers measured how strongly brain waves were synchronized before, during, and after anesthesia with propofol. Data from the research shows strong increases in synchrony only in very slow frequencies (deep red color along bottom) between the thalamus and four cortical regions while animals were unconscious.
  • Investigating the embattled brain
    Uniquely positioned to study the effect of combat on the brain, Omar Rutledge served as a U.S. Army infantryman in the 1st Armored and 25th Infantry Divisions. He was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from March 2003 to July 2004.
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  • Method offers inexpensive imaging at the scale of virus particles
    MIT engineers have developed a new type of hydrogel that maintains a more uniform configuration, pictured here, allowing for greater precision for imaging biological samples down to a resolution of about 10 nanometers.
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  • Basic cell health systems wear down in Huntington’s disease, analysis shows
    Researchers employed a software system called Geomic to integrate vast amounts of gene expression data from the brains of mice modeling Huntington’s disease. By comparing multidimensional mathematical surfaces plotted from the data, they were able to gain new insights into how gene expression differs in the disease based on many dimensions such as time, cell type and the extent of mutation in the huntingtin gene.
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    When a mental image shifts across the field of view, the brain re-encodes a memory of it among neurons in the opposite hemisphere of the prefrontal cortex.
  • Our gut-brain connection
    MIT researchers have developed an “organs-on-a-chip” system that replicates interactions between the brain, liver, and colon.
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  • James DiCarlo named director of the MIT Quest for Intelligence
    James DiCarlo, the Peter de Florez Professor of Neuroscience, has been named director of the MIT Quest for Intelligence. He will step down from his current role as head of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.
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    Myriam Heiman (left) and Alan Jasanoff have received grants to screen for genes that could help brain cells withstand Parkinson’s disease and to map how gene expression changes in the brain in response to drugs of abuse.
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    MIT neuroscientists have found that pyramidal cells (green) in the CA2 region of the hippocampus are responsible for storing critical timing information.
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  • A hunger for social contact
    MIT neuroscientists have found that the longings for social interaction felt during isolation are neurologically similar to the food cravings people experience when hungry.
  • Imaging method reveals a “symphony of cellular activities”
    MIT researchers have developed a way to simultaneously image up to five different molecules within a cell, by targeting glowing reporters to distinct locations inside the cell. This approach could allow scientists to learn much more about the complex signaling networks that control most cell functions.
  • Identifying the structure and function of a brain hub
    Postdoc Arghya Mukherjee studies the brain circuits involved in decision-making, and how these circuits go awry in people with psychiatric disorders.
  • Scientists identify specific brain region and circuits controlling attention
    Neurons of the locus coeruleus, shown here expressing the green-hued fluorescent calcium indicator GCaMP6F, are causally responsible for attentional control: the abilities to focus attention and to curb impulses in pursuit of a goal.
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    Brain and cognitive sciences PhD student Gurrein Madan was awarded a MathWorks Fellowship for using MATLAB to investigate the gut-brain connection.