Biology That Makes Us Tick: Free Stanford Course by Robert Sapolsky

First thing you need to know: Before doing anything else, you should simply click “play” and start watching the video above. It doesn’t take long for Robert Sapolsky, one of Stanford’s finest teachers, to pull you right into his course. Better to watch him than listen to me.

Second thing to know: Sapolsky is a MacArthur Fellow, a world renowned neurobiologist, and an adept science writer best known for his book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. Much of his research focuses on the interplay between the mind and body (how biology affects the mind, and the mind, the body), and that relationship lies at the heart of this course called “Human Behavioral Biology.”

Now the third: Human Behavioral Biology is available on YouTube and iTunes for free. The course, consisting of 25 videos spanning 36 hours, is otherwise listed in the Biology section of our big list of Free Online courses (now 750 courses in total).

Related Content:

Robert Sapolsky Breaks Down Depression

Dopamine Jackpot! Robert Sapolsky on the Science of Pleasure



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  1. Uncle B says . . . | April 5, 2011 / 4:42 pm

    Reality Check! Leading biologist says in effect: Harper’s super-prisons plans, just like the American ones, have no basis in science, belong with Nazi propaganda and the like – “pathological result of dwelling in one bucket” simply not the right path! Trudeau’s notions of treating sick minds was advanced, workable methodology. Beware the Jack-boots among us.

  2. fajas colombianas says . . . | April 6, 2011 / 12:58 pm

    I watched the video throughout and he has amazing points of views. It is true that we think categorically limiting our thoughts and opinions.

  3. fajas colombianas says . . . | April 6, 2011 / 12:58 pm

    I watched the video throughout and he has amazing points of views. It is true that we think categorically limiting our thoughts and opinions.

  4. Nchlsbrl9 says . . . | April 13, 2011 / 6:26 pm

    I had guessed 42 not knowing the stops of the T. must be lucky…

  5. Bruce says . . . | April 15, 2011 / 6:45 pm

    I enjoyed the lecture, and since Prof. Sapolsky moves so much, I suggest the cameraman zoom out a bit.

  6. Anonymous says . . . | April 16, 2011 / 5:54 am

    42 was the obvious answer as 42 is the answer to life the universe and everything :P :P

  7. SamyAdel9 says . . . | May 1, 2011 / 1:06 am

    Is it just me, or did anyone just watch this video because of this guys awesome beard?

  8. Horgatroll says . . . | May 16, 2011 / 7:39 pm

     brilliant!! wish all the lecturers were so entertaining and informative and magnetic! brilliant

  9. Brony420 says . . . | May 25, 2011 / 3:40 pm

    And YOU get a bagel with cream cheese!

  10. Get Out says . . . | June 2, 2011 / 12:59 am

    Interesting and all, but this guy did a good job at making himself look like a stereotypical “free-spirited college professor tool.”

  11. sa says . . . | June 4, 2011 / 5:24 pm

    might be a little late for that suggestion, but i dunno

  12. Jordan says . . . | June 17, 2011 / 9:52 pm

    “Interesting and all, but this guy did a good job at making himself look like a stereotypical “free-spirited college professor tool.””

    Thats bucket thinking

  13. sam says . . . | June 19, 2011 / 8:39 am

    this one course is ten times as interesting as my entire high school curriculum

  14. TGGP says . . . | June 26, 2011 / 2:12 pm

    Sapolsky wrote a book saying stress explains why zebras don’t get ulcers. Years before that Barry Marshall showed that ulcers are caused by the H. Pylori bacteria. He won the Nobel prize for that, and still says there’s no evidence that stress causes anything.

  15. Ann says . . . | July 6, 2011 / 2:12 pm

    Well, he discredited himself immediatly, by the title of his book…Zebras do, in fact, get ulcers…

  16. Todd says . . . | August 31, 2011 / 10:53 am

    Very interesting, but he is off on his description of behaviorism. Watson’s theory took behavioral theory too far and was not based on reinforcement and punishment (or operant conditioning), but on Pavlov’s work with respondent conditioning (the experiments where dog’s drooled to the sound of a bell because of the bell being paired food). B. F. Skinner did not believe that you could shape a person into whatever profession one wished by controlling reinforcers and punishers. Skinner recognized the role of genetics, but was able to objectively show that reinforcement and punishment can shape a person’s behavior.

  17. Mark LaJoie says . . . | October 9, 2011 / 5:26 pm

    I am at the tenth lecture in this course. It really does change the way you look at people.

  18. Guneet Narula says . . . | April 2, 2012 / 4:16 am

    Amazing! This guy also featured in the third edition of the Zeitgeist Documentaries.

  19. Jacinto says . . . | April 3, 2012 / 4:16 pm

    I’m amazed by this teacher and the way he teaches.This is very interesting and I will follow all the course.10.

  20. Joseph says . . . | December 16, 2012 / 6:16 am
  21. autocad kursu says . . . | December 30, 2012 / 1:17 pm

    I’ve found that the best data subject, thank you

  22. autocad kursu says . . . | December 30, 2012 / 1:30 pm
  23. Frank says . . . | April 30, 2013 / 4:09 am

    I had to stop watching this amazing man after 20 minutes. Please send the janitor back to the boiler room and redo this with somebody who knows how to handle a camera. I absolutely, deeply and thoroughly despise ‘found footage’ videos with every gene in my pool.

  24. Masiyiwa Sakupwanya says . . . | July 23, 2013 / 3:04 am

    Tell the ProfMaz says
    Dear sir, I address you Wizard
    I am a student in Pretoria, South Africa and have just got through your 2010 lectures on Human behavior. Utterly mesmerizing Wizard ! and in total line with my findings elucidating the biochemical mechanisms for disease resistance in citrus root stocks. I say ‘genes have become for too small for the system and while they may no longer fit, there is some use for them’.
    Thank you for your light

    regards
    Maz

  25. Jo says . . . | August 2, 2013 / 8:49 am

    As with all other theories and their proponents – all that is said is best balanced with other ideas on the same subject. Being a disciple of one professor’s ideology is not the same as being educated. I found a lot that he has to say enlightening, and some questionable. I did not, agree at all with the categorizing of Konrad Lorenz which invites investigation.

  26. Jeane Johnson says . . . | December 29, 2013 / 2:18 pm

    I have been suffering with no relief from physicians and I found Sapolsky lecture the most helpful of anything I have heard.

    I would like to know if he treats individuals or if he will recommend someone
    who could help.

    I live in Michigan but I am willing to come to Standford and I would wish to do this in person not Skype or internet.

    I do live near University of Michigan, Arbor but not as sure of that as I am Standford.

    Thank you for your help.

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