As described in Chapters 1, this book is the outgrowth of the desire to generate a theoretical orientation in which simple models of unidirectional determinism in regard to human behavior and human development, whether gene, brain, behavior, or culture driven, are laid to rest. A vibrant counterdose of interactionism seemed especially necessary in light of recent public discussions in Germany, much stimulated by noted neuroscientists, about the unquestionable dominance of the brain in the determination of behavior and individual action. We believed that this seeming movement toward reductionistic determinism, stemming in part from the justifiable excitement associated with new methods of neuroscience, was cause for concern. Of course, there were many important forerunners to our general theoretical orientation. Nonetheless, we judged that strengthening a more dynamic and interactionist conception of the nature of human behavior and the role of culture in co-constructing the brain and behavior was the call of the times.
Our first step was to have discussions among the three editors and a few close colleagues, such as Ulman Lindenberger and Shu-Chen Li. Subsequently, we planned a conference to examine the basic rationale and enrich its conceptual framework. Specifically, the goal was to bring noted scholars together, who, as a collective, would be prepared to activate and orchestrate a position where the various participating elements – the genome, the brain, behavior, the physical environment, and culture – were seen as somewhat independent agents that influence each other in pervasive, deep, and cumulative ways.