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Mammal brain wired to seek status and happiness

Loretta Graziano Breuning

Loretta Graziano Breuning

  • April 29, 2011 5:13am

“Your mammal brain cares about status as if your life depended on it…” writes CSUEB Professor Emerita of International Management Loretta Graziano Breuning in her new book, I, Mammal: Why Your Brain Links Status and Happiness (System Integrity Press, 2011). “When you feel one-upped by someone, your mammal brain treats it as a survival threat.”

I, Mammal investigates the mammalian appetite for social dominance. Breuning writes, “The mammal brain cannot put its reactions to the world into words, so the human cortex struggles to make sense of the limbic system it’s attached to. But our neurochemical ups and downs make sense if you look at the private lives of animals. The field notes of a primatologist are eerily similar to the lyrics of a country western song. A biology textbook bears uncanny resemblance to a soap opera script.” 

As a management professor, Breuning lectured on international bribery and worked in Africa for the United Nations Volunteers. She began studying psychology before the days of brain scanning and ape stalking. She serves as a docent at the Oakland Zoo, where she loves “talking to families interested in their biological inheritance.”


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