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The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human | [V. S. Ramachandran]

The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human

V. S. Ramachandran is at the forefront of his field - so much so that Richard Dawkins dubbed him the "Marco Polo of neuroscience". Now, in a major new work, Ramachandran sets his sights on the mystery of human uniqueness. Taking us to the frontiers of neurology, he reveals what baffling and extreme case studies can teach us about normal brain function and how it evolved.
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Publisher's Summary

V. S. Ramachandran is at the forefront of his field - so much so that Richard Dawkins dubbed him the "Marco Polo of neuroscience". Now, in a major new work, Ramachandran sets his sights on the mystery of human uniqueness.

Taking us to the frontiers of neurology, he reveals what baffling and extreme case studies can teach us about normal brain function and how it evolved. Synesthesia becomes a window into the brain mechanisms that make some of us more creative than others. And autism - for which Ramachandran opens a new direction for treatment - gives us a glimpse of the aspect of being human that we understand least: self-awareness.

Ramachandran tackles the most exciting and controversial topics in neurology with a storyteller's eye for compelling case studies and a researcher's flair for new approaches to age-old questions. Tracing the strange links between neurology and behavior, this book unveils a wealth of clues into the deepest mysteries of the human brain.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2011 V.S. Ramachandran (P)2011 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Ramachandran produces an exhilarating and at times funny text that invites discussion and experimentation." (Kirkus)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (218 )
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4.1 (160 )
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  •  
    bpjammin Hawaii 05-05-14
    bpjammin Hawaii 05-05-14 Member Since 2012

    benjamin of bouillis, with a spolish olive to middlepoint its zaynith,

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Insight in Easy tl Comprehend Language"
    Any additional comments?

    An engaging probe into the recesses of the brain with extremely interesting findings. A quirky recounting of his brilliant research.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eleanor Natick, MA, United States 09-25-12
    Eleanor Natick, MA, United States 09-25-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating, but needs an editor"
    Any additional comments?

    A really fascinating book, combining cognitive science with speculation about the nature of consciousness (and clearly differentiating between the two). The tone is rather pompous (and the reader doesn't help) but the real problem is that sentences and phrases get repeated verbatim throughout the book, making you wonder if you hit the wrong button on your iPod.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Goldberg Southbury, CT, United States 09-01-11
    Goldberg Southbury, CT, United States 09-01-11

    dentist_mom

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    3
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    "Good Book, Format problems"

    This is a very interesting book, however, it relys heavily on pictures, even devoting 2 chapters to visual esthetics and the brain. Difficult to follow without easy access to the pictures. I'm on a kindle, which I guess doesn't support pictures in audible, although I get pictures in my text books.

    I think it's sort of a rip-off to get the audio without the pictures. I've tried looking around in 'My Library' for the 'accompanying reference material' but I can't find it. I do like the content of the book and would recommend it as a text book. The narration is good.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eemer_CA Los Angeles, CA 12-04-11
    Eemer_CA Los Angeles, CA 12-04-11 Listener Since 2007

    eemer

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    "Interesting, yet overly stylized"

    Many interesting questions are addressed in this book; however the author only references studies which support his theories. He has not been very inclusive in his research. Furthermore, many of his actual 'studies' are derived from the small fishbowl of his college students, and, specifically, his psychology students. If that isn't a very selective population, I don't know what is. Also, there is a slight tone of male arrogance throughout this book, despite this, the book addresses many interesting topics and arguments. There are also many interesting individual cases which he discusses. I would recommend listening to this book, but only with a large dose of skepticism. Oh – and also, it would be an excellent idea to look at all the sketches he refers to in the actual, physical book. .

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    debra Lancing, TN, United States 08-06-12
    debra Lancing, TN, United States 08-06-12 Member Since 2010

    mammie

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "could have been good"

    If only author's would realize that when we are reading something about science, we aren't interested in their political view points. It can and often does offend about half of the listening audience. I didn't purchase this book to be told that someone's political opinion shows their low IQ for examle. I know people of both political persuasions and know them to be very intellegent. Therefore my belief in the author's overall assumtions are called into question. See how that happens? Stick to the subject. Write another book if you want to pontificate on the pros and cons of other issues, and give it a different name. Very dissapointed. The author was crafty enough to wait until the end on the book to insert these insults - potential readers be warned.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sylvia California 12-20-13
    Sylvia California 12-20-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Amazing performance of a pretty fun book."
    If you’ve listened to books by V. S. Ramachandran before, how does this one compare?

    Ramachandran's book Phantoms in the Brain is what got me into neuroscience as a kid--this author makes the brain seem so weird and wonderful. Now, as then, he finds great case studies and spins them into an interesting tale backed by his own extensive work in neurology. Unfortunately, as a more sophisticated reader I am now eager for a bit more detail--Ramachandran tends to produce a readable tome over an excessively sciency one.

    I also find myself wondering if I went back to read Phantoms in the Brain if I would find the same self-important tone and occasional snarky comments. I'm pretty sure even at 4am I wouldn't make a nasty joke about someone's neurological symptoms to his lawyer on the phone--and then I definitely wouldn't write about it in my book as if I were in the right. Ultimately, those kinds of annoyances fade though, because the work is just so cool and the brain is just so awesome and Ramachandran knows how to tell you so.


    What about David Drummond’s performance did you like?

    Drummond's reading is superb--he does great accents, and shows wonderful range. I found myself delighted every time a new character would emerge with a different voice. He breathed life into the patients, even portraying those with speech impediments with empathetic accuracy. Plus, his standard reading of the text was also fluid and enthusiastic.

    I am going to go look for other audiobooks Drummond has narrated, just because he was that fun to listen to!


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason FPO, AP, United States 11-19-13
    Jason FPO, AP, United States 11-19-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Interesting thoughts on how we think"

    Dr Ramachandran delivers a very interesting book with several provoking ideas on exactly how we think, from a physical and neurological viewpoint.

    I found the concept and explanatory powers of "mirror neurons" quite fascinating, and would very much be interested in seeing where future research leads in that area.

    I also appreciated the Oliver Sacks-like case studies, where strange and weird mental phenomena and behavior was examined and (at least theoretical) explanations were offered.

    The production quality is top-notch, save I think the narrator mispronounced two words -- very minor complaint, I know. The reading is otherwise flawless, and captures well both the excitement and thoroughness of Ramachandran's thoughts, as well as the bewilderment, confusion, and personality of the case subjects.

    If you are interested in the inner workings of the brain, and what that might tells us in terms of examining mind and consciousness, I highly recommend this book!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Hubbard Beijing, China 04-01-13
    Steve Hubbard Beijing, China 04-01-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Good science book"

    I enjoyed the stories. There is a lot of information in this book that can bring about serious discussions. Would like to hear more books by this author.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 02-27-13
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 02-27-13 Member Since 2009
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    "the most human organ / a guided tour"

    ? just what exactly do we know about how the brain works
    ? if we did know more, could we then understand ourselves better
    ? who'd be bright enough to both understand and explain all this

    v.s. ramachandran is more than up to this monumental task
    the explosion of new detailed brain studies provides his raw material
    his near mythic status in the medical community provides his authority

    years ago using only a mirror and a q-tip he unraveled "phantom pain"
    this sad, untreatable condition had been recognized for centuries
    it took someone of ramachandran's blazing insight to solve its' riddle

    he clearly sees himself as flying at an altitude that others only dream of
    a lack of confidence doesn't seem to be a problem he has ever had
    but it takes that sort of hubris to tackle an issue this vast and significant

    the anatomical nomenclature will probably over whelm some readers
    the rapid pace of new discoveries means he'll need a new edition in a few years
    this is a very exciting time in history to be an investigational neuroscientist

    the most exciting sections of the book dealt with neuro-plasticity
    ? can nerves and nerve signals be repaired or rerouted
    ? can we contemplate therapy for diseases we once thought were untreatable

    recent advances in neuro-imaging and function studies rival the discovery of DNA
    we now have a window into that most human and complex of all organs
    this book is a compelling first step in understanding this bold, new world

















    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Park Seoul, Korea 04-09-12
    Park Seoul, Korea 04-09-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Always thanks to V. S. Ramachandran"

    Too good to read his prior book, so I choose this book without hesitation. Thanks!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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