It matters to be aware of the important role played by the brain in the progressive constitution and unification of the three major facets of the human being: a biological individual; a social actor; a self‐conscious, reflective, and deliberating subject. The aim is to discuss this role.
The dialogues carried on by each one of these facets with an environment of its own (the material environment; the social milieu; the subject's inner world) are related to the functioning of three distinct levels of integration, organization, and adaptation within the human brain.
The neural substrate of basic affective processes pervades the entire brain and the latter processes play a predominant role in the mediation and integration of the individual's interactions with his/her environments. The degree of “plasticity”, i.e. the sensitivity to the shaping influence of environmental conditions, increases markedly from the lower to the higher level of brain functioning. Any individual characteristic of brain functioning is the outcome of a series of complex and evolving interactions between genetic and environmental factors.
Since brain development highly depends on the early environment (the first years of life), it is of the utmost importance to ensure that every developing brain benefits from optimal environmental conditions.
The paper brings together a series of scientific facts in an integrated and dynamic bio‐psycho‐social perspective which aims at working out a “model of man” thought to be an appropriate basis for any study of human development.
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