Brain, Mind and Behaviour: A New Perspective on Human Nature

Robinson, D. L. (1996) Brain, Mind and Behaviour: A New Perspective on Human Nature. Praeger Press: Westport CN and London. [Place an order]


Brain, Mind and Behaviour describes new discoveries concerning the relationship between brain-function and individual differences in human personality and intelligence. These findings and related theoretical developments provide new insights concerning the greatest mystery of all - human nature and the human mind. The book should interest all who wish to know more about human nature, especially psychologists and those concerned with the psychological significance of neuroscience. It is essential reading for undergraduate and postgraduate psychology students with a main interest in personality and individual differences and for professional psychologists concerned with mental health, education and human resource management where knowledge of personality and individual differences is of primary and fundamental importance. The more important claims that can be made for the book are enumerated below.

  1. Empirical findings provide unequivocal support for the general direction or thrust of theories concerning the biological bases of personality and temperament that were developed earlier by Pavlov and Eysenck.
  2. It has been possible to identify and resolve problems associated with the theories of Pavlov and Eysenck as well as refining and greatly extending these to include the domain of intelligence.
  3. For the first time, it has been possible to map out in a clear and unambiguous manner the neurological determinants of the major dimensions of personality and to show, after more than two millennia, the essential validity of the ancient fourfold classification of temperaments into the melancholic, sanguine, phlegmatic and choleric types.
  4. The same fundamental dimensions of neurological variation determine the "structure" of intelligence and with this new knowledge it is possible to reconcile earlier conflicting notions of intelligence structure proposed by Spearman and Cattell.
  5. There is support for a definition of intelligence in terms of the "availability of information" and it has been possible to specify in precise terms just how fundamental neurological differences mediating differences in cerebral "arousability" can influence different neurological processes that enable the acquisition, retention and utilization of information That is to say, the neurological processes that enable learning, memory and attention are specified.
  6. Not least important, it has been possible to demonstrate how intelligence differences relate to personality or temperament differences, and in this way to achieve the first integrated, detailed and comprehensive explanation of brain, mind and behaviour relations.
  7. In the book, and in related articles in science journals, a new set of procedures and techniques is described which, for the first time, permits the physically, neurologically and psychologically meaningful analysis of brain electrical responses generated by the activity of cerebral neurons. These data not only bear on questions of great psychological significance but they also yield the first systematic and empirically valid explanation of "alpha frequency" EEG activity and other related neurological phenomena.
  8. The new theory is related explicitly to the specialist areas of "experimental" psychology such as perception, memory, learning, motivation and attention. It is suggested that the results of research in these areas have not been, and could not be, properly interpreted without reference to the individual differences detailed in this book.
  9. Reference to the new theory demonstrates how Freud was led to erroneous conclusions and alternative explanations are provided for the phenomena of chief interest to him.
  10. Reference is made to the ideas of Jung and the "humanist" psychologists, Maslow and Rogers. These theorists have addressed areas essentially untouched by Freud that relate in an important and interesting way to a new conception of "higher" cerebral emotions and to the "archetypal" experiences that release these emotions: the emotions of love and hate that motivate all "self-transcending" behaviour. There is here, an explanation for the aesthetic appreciation and moral sense that allows people to discriminate beauty and goodness from ugliness and evil and thereby to act in ways that are most characteristically human but least well explained by existing psychological theories.
  11. Twin studies have consistently indicated that genetic endowment strongly influences personality and intelligence and there is recent evidence that this influence extends to include religious and political attitudes. The theory elaborated in this book explains precisely how genetic differences are translated through neurological systems into these psychological differences.
  12. The whole of literature is made up of attempts to describe the most powerful archetypal scenarios and the responses to these scenarios of heroes and villains motivated by the self-transcending emotions of love and hate and not merely by the brutish and self-serving pursuit of pleasure or avoidance of pain that has been the bedrock of psychoanalysis and behaviourism. In recent times, many authors have recognized that the psychological conflict of humanity, our propensity for great creative achievements alongside the most pathologically destructive  behaviours, has become a threat to the whole planet. In this book, the "human predicament" is explained by reference to the evolution of high intelligence and stronger self-transcending emotions. It is argued that these attributes initially enhanced our prospects for survival and led to the ascendancy of  human-kind over all other life-forms. Ultimately, however, these developments carry a sting in the tail and they could be the seeds of our own destruction. As we create material and social environments that are artificial and alien we not only suffer the more obvious physical consequences, such as asthma and cancer epidemics, but less obviously our genetically determined responses to these alien material and social environments become increasingly inappropriate, destructive and pathological.
  13. Although not elaborated in great detail, the general theory formulated in this book provides the basis for a new, systematic, comprehensive and neurologically based understanding of mental illness and the symptoms of mental illness. The methods of EEG analysis that are described here and in related articles in science journals provide the means for a simple test of the general health of the CNS. There is also the promise of precise neurological data and correspondingly unambiguous diagnoses and the possibility of systematic evaluation of the therapeutic effects of different drugs and procedures.
  14. There are equally important pedagogic implications since it is possible to specify large and genetically determined differences in modes of learning and of the utilization of attention and recall which suggest that the best educational environment for one temperament type may be the worst for another. Most important, it can also be inferred that the typical school environment is actually the least suitable for the temperament types likely to have the lowest IQ and to be most in need of educational support and assistance.
  15. No less important than the medical and educational applications there is a sure and certain basis for providing vocational guidance and for the determination of employee selection criteria which would guarantee major improvements in human resource management.



The theory of personality over the last 50 years or so has been tied down very much to either highly speculative psychoanalytic accounts, or to endlessly repetitive psychometric studies of taxonomy involving correlational analysis and factor analysis. The demonstration in recent years that genetic factors are prominent in producing differences in personality has changed the climate greatly and has made much more acceptable than previously the notion that biological factors are important in the causation of such differences. This is true both on the side of cognitive personality differences (intelligence, special abilities) as on the side of non-cognitive personality (temperament, character). The facts of genetic causation are now very widely accepted, and are supported by many large-scale investigations involving up to 15,000 pairs of twins, carried out in many different countries - from England to Scandinavia, from Australia to the United States.

Clearly, a link is required to connect the genes and chromosomes on the one side with the behavioural differences observed phenotypically on the other. Such mediating links must be found in human physiology, neuroanatomy, hormonal secretions, etc., and much work has been done in recent years to discover these missing links. Studies have used the EEG, averaged evoked potentials, contingent negative variation (CNV), positron emission tomography (PET), brain electrical activity mapping (BEAM) analysis and many other forms of measurement which now present a formidable array of techniques, methods and results for the student of personality. Much of this work is heuristic, lacking in sound theoretical formulation, and it is particularly gratifying to welcome in this book an author who has attempted to go back to first principles, and who has attempted to marry Pavlovian-type concepts with modern methods of measurement and analysis. To have done so in both the fields in question, i.e. cognitive and non-cognitive aspects of personality, is particularly notable; few people have tried to use similar concepts in the analysis of both intellect and temperament.

Another important aspect of the book is its historical orientation. Modern workers typically have no knowledge of, or respect for, earlier work, however seminal it may have been; recent handbooks of personality hardly mention the important theories put forward by Pavlov, or the equally important psychological experiments carried out in England by the London School under the guidance of Spearman. Robinson is well versed in this historical domain, and succeeds well in linking it up with modern developments, and in particular with his highly technical experimental approach. His background in physics has enabled him to use these modern methods of refined electrophysiological measurement to the best advantage, and to use them to give empirical meaning and support to notions such as excitation and inhibition which formed an essential basis for Pavlovian theorizing.

Whatever their ultimate fate, Robinson's theories are certainly worthy of detailed consideration, and it is to be hoped that his results will be replicated and extended by others. If they stand up to such critical treatment, they certainly mark an important step forward in a field that is vital to the understanding of human behaviour.

H. J. Eysenck, Ph.D., D.Sc.,
Institute of Psychiatry,
University of London.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

The Four Temperaments.
Pavlov's Classical Conditioning Procedure.
The Temperaments and Classical Conditioning.
The Temperaments and 'Strength' of the Nervous System.

Chapter 3

The Strength and Collision Techniques, Cerebral Reactivity Versus Brainstem Inhibition.
Pavlov's Conception of Thalamocortical and Brainstem Interaction.
Some Unresolved Questions.

Chapter 4

The Temperaments and Contemporary Personality Dimensions.
Eysenck's Theory of Thalamocortical Arousability.
Pavlov, Eysenck, Introversion-Extraversion and Neuroticism.

Chapter 5

Molar Effects of  Neural Excitation and Inhibition.
The Molecular Basis of Molar EEG Effects.
Analysis of Thalamocortical Activity.

Chapter 6

Natural Frequency, Excitation-Inhibition Balance and the Sanguine Versus Melancholic Contrast.
Damping Ratio, Overall Thalamocortical Arousability and the Choleric Versus Melancholic Contrast.
The Neurological Bases of the Four Classical Temperaments.
Some Observations on the Nature of Emotions.

Chapter 7

Real Personality Differences versus Descriptive Coordinates

Chapter 8

Arousability as the Determinant of Correlations Between EEG and IQ.
Arousability, Information Processing, and Intelligence Factors.
Neurological Differences Determining Three Distinct High IQ Types.

Chapter 9

Spearman's Distinction Between Conation and Cognition.
Spearman Acknowledges Three Factors, g, c, and w.
Spearman's Perseveration Factor.
Webb's w Factor.

Chapter 10

The Noegenetic Laws and General Intelligence.
Retentivity and General Intelligence.
Attention, Mental Energy and General Intelligence.

Chapter 11

Superego and Id: The Relative Predominance of Cerebrum and Brainstem.
The Ego, Middling Cerebral Arousability and Intelligence.
Freud's Flawed Conception of Development.
Freud's Flawed Conception of the Causation of Neuroses.
Psychoanalysis: The Royal Road to the Unconscious.
Freud's Flawed Conception of Morality.

Chapter 12

Twin Studies and Genetic Endowment.
Genes, Archetypes, Cerebral Emotions and Morality.
Intelligence, Morality and Hedonism: The Legacy and the Apocalypse.


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