Old brains in a new world: A manuscript thesis
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The human brain and nervous system have both adapted in direct response to the specific environmental pressures that existed tens of thousands of years ago. More recently (approximately the past 200 hundred years) societal evolution has occurred at a rate which has greatly outpaced human physiological evolution, and resultantly, in the year 2020 our ancient brains find themselves thrust into an intensely urbanized, high stimulus, post-industrial environment for which they have had inadequate time to adapt. This manuscript thesis describes, via five distinct examples (chapters), the manner in which our old brains struggle to function in this, the new world. Each chapter relies heavily on quite recent publications from the field of neuroscience to make its case, as it is contemporary neuroscience alone that is in position to elucidate the highly material underpinnings of the multiple psychological states or conditions which emanate from this old brain/new world conundrum. In addition to examining several challenges that arise from the aforementioned condition, the thesis also looks at the manner in which our brains and nervous systems have evolved to thrive in the natural world and the extent to which a return to very old ‘ways of being’ can be restorative. While there may be little that can be done to combat urbanity and its corresponding assault on our senses, the literature on this topic provides both hope and wisdom for those in the counselling professions wishing to provide clients with the means to ‘go back to nature’ in hopes of mitigating the symptoms of psychological distress that arise from life in the 21st century.