Naughty by Nature

What should we think of people whose addled brains are driving them to nymphomania?

By Jesse Bering

Photo of David Duchovny as Hank Moody, from CalifornicationWhat if Hank Moody had Klüver-Bucy Syndrome?If you are a materialist holding the logical belief that the human brain, with all of its buzzing neural intricacies, its pulpy, electrified, arabesque chambers and labyrinthine coves, has been carved out over countless eons by the slow-and-steady hand of natural selection, then you will grant that specific brain regions evolved because they generated behaviors that were beneficial to our ancestors. When one part of the brain is compromised—through injury, disease, or some other unfortunate event—the constellation of symptoms that result are often remarkably specific. “The brain is the physical manifestation of the personality and sense of self,” writes University of Michigan neuroscientist Shelley Batts in a 2009 issue of Behavioral Sciences and the Law, “and focal damage to brain areas can result in focal changes in behavior and personality while leaving other aspects of the self unchanged.”

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