Paul Grobstein

Education Biology, Harvard University, 1969
    M.S. in Biology, Stanford University, 1972
    Ph.D. in Biology, Stanford University, 1973


Research Interests

I'm a neurobiologist, biologist, philospher, and educator with a life-long interest in understanding why people behave the way they do, and how they can continually expand their capabilities. I am interested as well in the nature of biological, cultural, and intellectual change, complex systems and general information processing principles, and the character of human understanding and the relationships among its different forms.

I've done laboratory research on the organization and development of the nervous systems of crayfish, rabbits, leeches, and, most extensively, frogs, where the work focused on the nature of spatial representations. and the origins, organization, regulation, and significance of unpredictability in neuronal function and behavior. This research related as well to several broader questions, including the distinction between conscious and unconscious processing, and the nature of individual choice and free will.

In recent years, I've come to think of myself as an "applied neurobiologist", and now devote much of my time to exploring the implications of current and anticipated understandings of the brain for a variety of philosophical and practical issues, including education, mental health, child-rearing, and political and social organization.

I am, in addition, an active explorer of the opportunities being made available by the development of computing technology, and of the internet and the web. With a number of colleagues, I co-founded and continue to develop the Serendip website as a venue for explorations of new directions for the development of human culture that are being opened up by the world wide web.

Selected Publications

  • Grobstein, P. (2008) The Brain as a Learner/Inquirer/Creator: Some Implications of its Organization for Individual and Social Well-Being, submitted
  • Grobstein, P. (2007) From Complexity to Emergence and Beyond: Towards Empirical Non-Foundationalism as a Guide to Inquiry, Soundings 90(1/2): 301-323 (manuscript as Word file)
  • Grobstein, P. (2007) Interdisciplinarity, Transdisciplinarity, and Beyond: The Brain, Story Sharing, and Social Organization, Journal of Research Practice 3(2): M21.
  • Dalke A. and Grobstein, P. (2007) Story-Telling in (At Least) Three Dimensions: An Exploration of Teaching Reading, Writing, and Beyond, Journal of Teaching Writing 23(1): 91-114, (PDF available)
  • Dalke, A., Cassidy, K., Dalke, A., Grobstein, P., and Blank, D. (2007) Emergent Pedagogy: Learning to Enjoy the Uncontrollable and Make it Productive, Journal of Educational Change 8(2): 111-130
  • Dalke, A., Grobstein, P. and McCormack, E. (2006) Exploring Interdisciplinarity: The Significance of Metaphoric and Metonymic Exchange Journal of Research Practice, Volume 2.2, Article M3
  • Dalke, A., Grobstein, P. and McCormack, E. (2006) Why and How to be Interdisciplinary, Academe, May/June 2006
  • Grobstein, Paul (2005) Revisiting Science in Culture: Science as Story Telling and Story Revising, Journal of Research Practice, Volume 1.1, Article M1.
  • Grobstein, P. (2005) Making the Unconscious Conscious, and Vice Versa: A Bi-directional Bridge Between Neuroscience/Cognitive Science and Psychotherapy?, Cortex 41: 663-668 (available on-line)
  • Grobstein, P. (2003) Getting it less wrong, the brain's way: science, pragmatism, and multiplism, IN Interpretation and Its Objects: Studies in the Philosophy of Michael Krausz (A. Ritivoi, ed.), Rodopi, pp 153-166 (available on line)
  • Grobstein, P. (1994) Variability in behavior and the nervous system. In: Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, Volume 4 (V.S. Ramachandran, ed.), Academic Press, 447-458 (available on line)
  • Grobstein, P. (1992) Directed movement in the frog: motor choice, spatial representation, free will? In: Neurobiology of Motor Programme Selection: New Approaches to Mechanisms of Behavioral Choice. (Kien, J., McCrohan, C., Winlow, B., eds.), Pergamon Press, pp 250-279. (PDF available)
  • Grobstein, P. (1991) From genomes to dreams. Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin, Spring, 1991, pp 14-17. (available on line)
  • Grobstein, P. (1990) Strategies for analyzing complex organization in the nervous system. I. Lesion experiments, the old rediscovered. In: Computational Neuroscience. (Schwartz, E., ed.), MIT Press, pp 19-37 (PDF available).
  • Grobstein, P. (1989) Diversity and deviance: a biological perspective. Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin, Spring, 1989, pp 4-5 (available on-line)
  • Grobstein, P. (1989) The Scientist/Teacher: A Call to Arms. J. College Sci. Teaching, December, p 140ff (available on-line).
  • Grobstein, P. (1988) From the head to the heart: some thoughts on similarities between brain function and morphogenesis, and on their significance for research methodology and biological theory. Experientia 44: 961-971 (available on-line).
  • Grobstein, P. (1988) On beyond neuronal specificity: problems in going from cells to networks and from networks to behavior. In: Advances in Neural and Behavioral Development, Volume III. (Shinkman, P.G., ed.), Ablex, pp. 1-58.
  • Hollyday, M. and Grobstein, P. (1981) Of limbs and eyes and neuronal connectivity. IN: Studies in Developmental Neurobiology: Essays in Honor of Viktor Hamburger (Cowan, W.M., ed). Oxford University Press. pp 188-217.
  • Grobstein, P. and Chow, K.L. (1975) Receptive field development and individual experience. Science 190: 352-358.