Relación Cerebro y Conducta ¿Somos nuestro Cerebro?

Brain-behavior relationship: are we our brains?


The relationship between brain and behavior seems to be the successor of the famous Cartesian mind-body dualism, where the brain is the physical or biological component and behavior the mental or psychological aspect.

Despite its ancient origin, the body-mind dichotomy continues to be an unresolved problem nowadays. Both concepts have been kept apart as if they were separate and distinct.

However, the idea that the mind and body function separatelyturns out to be animpediment to scientific progress, since mind and body are related in a more complex way than one might imagine.

Why do we behave in a certain way? Is the brain in charge of our actions?

Try to answer the following question:

What is our brain’s ultimate goal?

Many people will respond:”to perceive, think, reason, or learn.”Even if it is true that the brain performs such tasks, all of them serve as the basis for an ultimate purpose: to directbehavior. For example, through our perception we can know what is happening in our environment, thereby triggering more useful and adaptive behaviors.

The goal, then, is to relate specificbrain events to certain behaviors. However, everything is not so simple. For example, the same behavior can be triggered by different physiological mechanisms: we can drink a beer because we are thirsty or because we feel stressed and want to take advantage of its intoxicating effect.

Are we our brain?

Now, try to answer the following question:

If you could transplant Einstein’s brain into your body, would you think and talk like him? Would you behave exactly like him? Would you have won the Nobel Prize in Physics?

What if Mozart’s brain was transplanted into your body? Would have you composed the same number of pieces as he did?

The first thing we tend to think is that if we had the brain of a genius, we would be the genius, since we think the brain is responsible for our behavior. However, this matterbecomes increasingly complicated.

We must not forget that the brain is flexible and has the ability to change. This organ evolves throughout life and adapts to the changing environment. Thus, the relationship between brain and behavior is modulated by different factors:

  • The environment: our environmental surroundingsinfluenceour brain and behavior. For example, the environment modulates the development of different skills. Therefore, language acquisition can vary for a child coming from a rural areato another from an urban area (because the verbal stimulation that each one receives is different).

Another example is that of enrichedenvironments. It is scientifically proven that individuals raised in enriched environments have a greater number of synaptic connections among neurons (since an enriched environment providesindividuals with possibilities for action and increases cognitive and sensory stimulation) than those in impoverished environments.

Additionally, there are environmental factors that can influence the development of the nervous system. One example is malnutrition in early life.

Therefore, it is demonstrated that our brain can undergo changes due to the environment, therefore influencing future behaviors.

  • Sociocultural and historical aspects: returning to the example mentioned earlier on brain transplant, our behaviors might have been very different from those of geniuses in their time. We would have quickly adapted to our socio-cultural and historical context, undoubtedly different from that of Einstein and Mozart.
  • Phylogeny: the human brain hasa phylogenetic history, that is, inherited species characteristics. Thus, in the human brain, three distinct layers can be distinguished: a deep or reptilian layer (the oldest phylogenetic layer), an intermediate or limbic layer, and an outer or neocortex layer (which distinguishes humans from other animals). Thus, as we evolve as a species, the brain undergoes changes to meet the specific demands of the environment.
  • Genetics:the development of our brain is governed by gene expression. To a certain degree,it can create variations such as different sensitivities to reward, different probabilities of emitting behaviors, etc. On the other hand, if there is a mutation in the genes, the process will vary and may cause different disorders.
  • Ontogeny: refers to the development of the individual and to what we have learned throughout life. Our current behavior is determined by past experiences. These are stored in our memory and serve as a guide to emit certain behaviors and not others. One example is that, if we have experienced pleasure with an activity in the past, we tend to repeat it.

Another aspect that reinforcesthe brain-behavior relationship is the behavioral changes observed after brain injury. In fact, neuroscience is responsible forseeking linksbetween specific brain structures and certain behaviors, mainly through the observation of brain-injured individuals. Thus, neuroimaging techniques are used to determine the lesion site and the neuropsychological profile of the individual is examined. If the pattern is repeated in a large number of patients, it can be said that a specific brain area is associated with the impaired function.

In short, all this indicates that there is a complex and interdependent relationship between the brain and behavior. The brain receives information and internal and external influences that enable the most appropriate behaviors to be triggered at any time. In addition, our behavior has environmental consequences, which can be experienced as positive or negative for us. These consequences make us learn and reduce the likelihood that that behavior will occur again in the future. Such learning outcomesend up producing brain changes, in particularinbrain synaptic connections.

If you liked this blog about the relationship between the brain and behavior, you might find the following posts interesting as well:


– Carlson, N.R. (2006). Fisiología de la conducta 8ª Ed. Madrid: Pearson. pp: 2-3.

– Matute, E. y Roselli, M. (2010). Neuropsicología infantil: historia, conceptos y objetivos. En S. Viveros Fuentes. (Ed.), Neuropsicología del Desarrollo Infantil (pp. 3). México: El manual moderno.

– Tamayo, J. (2009). La relación cerebro-conducta ¿hacia una nueva dualidad? Revista Internacional de Psicología y Terapia Psicológica, 9(2), 285-293.


5 thoughts on “Brain-behavior relationship: are we our brains?

  1. Avatar
    Pedro Matute Monday July 29th, 2019 at 01:04 PM

    Genial el artículo. Muy interesante tanto el post como el blog.
    Yo me pregunto si los cambios que el entorno produce en nuestro cerebro pueden tener su expresión en una transmisión genética de los mismos a nuestros descendientes.

    Un saludo

    • Avatar
      NeuronUP Tuesday July 30th, 2019 at 03:50 PM

      Hola Pedro,

      ¡Muchas gracias por tu comentario! 🙂

      ¡Un saludo!

  2. Avatar
    grisel m Friday October 11th, 2019 at 11:56 PM

    muy bueno facil de entender ,me fue muy util contiene la informacion que estaba buscando para una clase de manejo del comportamiento

    • Avatar
      NeuronUP Monday October 14th, 2019 at 10:58 AM

      Hola Grisel,

      ¡Nos alegra que te haya resultado útil la información!

      Te recuerdo que NeuronUP es una plataforma de estimulación cognitiva especialmente diseñada para profesionales. Si quieres probarla GRATIS puedes solicitar una demo en el siguiente enlace:

      Si eres un afectado, o un familiar, y te gustaría trabajar con NeuronUP puedes informar de nuestra herramienta a tu terapeuta y nosotros le ayudaremos a elegir el plan que mejor se adapte a tus necesidades.

      ¿Puedo ayudarte en algo más?

      Un saludo,

      El equipo de NeuronUP

  3. Avatar
    Lidia Padilla Rodriguez Friday February 21st, 2020 at 04:41 PM

    excelente guia de estudio y muchas gracias

Leave a Reply

Name *
Email *