Professor Martinez Lecture
Social Impetus: Hormones & the Social Brain !
Luis Martinez, a Biological Psychology professor at the University of Minnesota (Yay!
Minnesota Pride!), came to Trinity to give a lecture titled “Social Impetus: Hormones & the
Social Brain.” Since he may potentially be a professor at Trinity in upcoming years, Mr.
Martinez gave this lecture in order to explain how he teaches class at the University of
Minnesota, and how he would teach a class here on this subject. When planning a course,
Professor Martinez has two course objectives: the first is to have the students develop a strong
understanding of the subject matter, and the second is to strengthen their critical thinking skills.
By fulfilling these two objectives, Professor Martinez aims to explain to his students the
relationship between hormones, the brain areas they act upon and their role in human social
In order to fulfill the first course objective, Professor Martinez initially explained the very
basics of hormones to us. His definition of hormones was “compounds produced and released by
glands which travel throughout the whole body and the brain.” By doing this, hormones
influence many of the most important aspects of our daily lives, such as behaviors and cognitive
processes, as well as more long-term aspects such as reproduction. Specifically, Professor
Martinez finds a lot of interest in oxytocin, such as oxytocin in new romantic couples and other
similar studies. Other ways he helps students develop a strong understanding of the subject
material is to provide historical context and discuss recent and empirical research. In the case of
oxytocin, he would discuss the discovery of oxytocin and how oxytocin can be manipulated in
the brain. Empirical research here would include links between oxytocin and autism, which is
recent research that a lot of students would probably find interest in.
In order to fulfill the second course objective (to strengthen critical thinking skills),
Professor Martinez stated he would have students critically assess scientific literature. He would
do this by having students create small groups and discuss the literature together in class, and
then write some sort of assessing report to be handed in either at the end of class, or for
homework. The emphasis here would be on student-led discussions, which would be based off of
the primary research and review articles given to them.