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Stanford Lectures III: Chaos, Language, Depression

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Official data in SubjectManager for the following academic year: 2019-2020

Course director

Dr. Róbert MÁTICS (, associate professor

Department of Behavioural Sciences

Subject data

Code of subject: OSF-SB3-T  |  2 credit  |  Dentistry |  Optional module  |  both semesters

Prerequisites: -

Number of hours/semester

24 lectures + 0 practices + 0 seminars = total of 24 hours

Course headcount limitations

min. 1 – max. 15 person

Available as Campus course for 15 student(s). Campus-faculties: ÁOK GYTK TTK


Prof Robert Sapolsky at Stanford University has a free course on human behavioural biology on YouTube. It covers topics from molecular and behavioral genetics through sex, aggression, language to diseases like schizophrenia, Huntingtons, Tourettes etc. In this course we will hear and see altogether 8 of his 2010 lectures (each ca. 45-50 mins) and discuss the information delivered. The lectures can be stopped at any point so that emerging questions are negotiated in detail. Some examples:
- How to solve the problem that there are not enough genes to code for every bifurcation in the lungs or blood vessels?
- How to press an infinitely long tube into a limited space?
- What does a fractal have to do with human body development or the wiring of the cortex?
- How do languages arise out of nothing?
- What's the definition of healthy? Somebody, who has the same diseases that everybody else does?


  • 1. Organisational topics, short introduction - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 2. Reductionism - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 3. from grandmother-neurons to Jennifer Aniston-neurons - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 4. How to run out of genes and neurons? - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 5. Non-linear and non-additive systems. Chaotic systems. - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 6. Lorenz-attractor, strange attractors, the butterfly effect - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 7. Fractals, Menger-sponge, Cantor-cube, Sierpinski carpet - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 8. Cellular automaton, Conways game of life - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 9. Neural networks, engrams, fractals to solve the packing problem - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 10. Six degrees of separation, wiring of the cortex, buttom-up quality control - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 11. Common features of human languages - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 12. Modularity, lateralization, aphasias, alexia, dyslexia - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 13. Chomsky vs Skinner - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 14. Nicaraguan sign language, language acquisition - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 15. Animal languages - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 16. Genetics of language use: FOXP2, HARE5 - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 17. Pidgins to creoles. Disappearing languages - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 18. Huntingtons, Tourettes, PANDAS, OCD, Jerusalem-syndrome, Stendhal-syndrome, Rapunzel-syndrome, Apotemnophilia etc - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 19. Depression: biology and psychology, Reactive and Major depression - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 20. Symptoms: anhedonia, grief, guilt, psychomotor retardation, self-injury, suicide, vegetative symptoms - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 21. SAD, norepinephrine, MAO inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, reserpine, dopamine, Prozac, serotonine and SSRIs, substance P - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 22. Psychosurgery, cingulotomy, hypothyroidism, hormonal effects - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 23. mourning vs melancholia, learned helplessness, genetic components - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 24. Summary, questions, discussion, feedback - Dr. Mátics Róbert



Reading material

Obligatory literature

no compulsory books

Literature developed by the Department

Handouts will be given


Extended notes available

Recommended literature

J. Gleick: Chaos. Penguin 1988

Conditions for acceptance of the semester

Maximum of 25 % absence allowed

Mid-term exams

Make up possible by appointment

Making up for missed classes

Make up possible by appointment

Exam topics/questions

No detailed questions are asked, rather a synthesis and deep understanding of the connections should be reached and given back.


Instructor / tutor of practices and seminars