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The Science of Consequences: How They Affect Genes, Change the Brain, and Impact Our Worldby Susan M Schneider
Synopses & Reviews
Children quickly learn that actions have consequences. This elementary lesson is repeated again and again throughout adulthood as we adjust our behaviors according to the reactions they produce in the social and natural environment. Now, an internationally recognized biopsychologist, tells the story of how something so deceptively simple can help make sense of so much.
Despite their variety, consequences appear to follow a common set of scientific principles and share some similar effects in the brain (specifically, in the so-called pleasure centers). Based on these principles, Schneider and other scientists have been able to create mathematical models of certain behaviors. And they have demonstrated that learning from consequences predictably activates genes and restructures the neural configuration of the brain--in humans as well as in animals. Consequences are an integral part of the nature-and-nurture system.
The knowledge gained from this newly expanded science has many applications, as the author shows in examples from the home, the hospital, the classroom, and the boardroom. The science of consequences helps fight prejudice, free addicts of their destructive habits, and treat depression. It enriches the lives of pets and zoo animals. It also sheds light on our biggest societal challenges, where we must choose between short-term and long-term consequences.
Featuring illustrative human, pet, and wild-animal anecdotes, this book is a unique and fascinating introduction to a science that is truly epic in scope.
"Schneider, a psychologist and protÃ©gÃ© of B.F. Skinner, takes a wide-ranging approach to the topic of how reinforcing and punishing feedback from the environment shapes behavior and directs learning, from the trainability of light-avoidant planaria to the complex machinations of human politics. Citing a diverse collection of behavioral, biological, and mathematical modeling studies, Schneider groups many topics regarding learning and behavior under the rubric of 'science of consequences,' including epigenetics, behavioral shaping, neuroplasticity, classical conditioning, and observational learning. She details the kinds of things that are most rewarding across species such as variety in the environment, attention from others, and a sense of control. Schneider highlights the reward styles that research shows are most effective (e.g., immediate rather than delayed results) and then applies them to practical approaches to training pets, educating children, changing bad habits, and improving our culture. Though the writing can be jumpy and rambling at times, and individuals in the fields discussed might find Schneider's syncretic approach oversimplified, this big-picture analysis is a good reminder that rewards are powerful and no behavior is without consequences and the ability to change us. Illus. Agent: Laurie Abkemeier, DeFiore and Co.." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Susan M. Schneider, PhD (Stockton, CA), a biopsychologist and naturalist, has an international reputation in nature-nurture relations, mathematical modeling of animal behavior, and the principles of learning from consequences. She was a longtime friend of B. F. Skinner, who mentored her through her academic career. Schneider is currently a visiting scholar at the University of the Pacific. She has been a professor at St. Olaf College, Auburn University, and Florida International University, and a visiting research fellow at the University of Auckland.
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