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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

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  •  
    Matt Tampa, Florida, United States 05-24-14
    Matt Tampa, Florida, United States 05-24-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Top Notch Brain Stuff"
    Where does The Tell-Tale Brain rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book is very entertaining, and high quality neuroscience. it is fairly easy to follow, considering its topic. i would put it in the top five books of its type. i think in some ways it is better than David Eaglemen's Incognito, but would put it slightly behind Steven Pinker or Leonard Mlodniow. My only reason for giving four starts, instead of 5, is because the book feels a little light or incomplete, like Dr. R has stopped short, perhaps there is still science to be made. All that said, i would definitely buy his next book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pony Atlanta 05-19-14
    Pony Atlanta 05-19-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Fascinating, enlightening and a little bizzare"

    I absolutely love the way the author explains the brain, the most dynamic description. For someone who loves neurobiology but has never officially studied it, this was a very new way of thinking about the brain, so fluid versus static and compartmentalized. The portions on his actual research are much more entrancing then those on his speculations.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bpjammin 05-05-14
    bpjammin 05-05-14 Member Since 2012
    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
  •  
    Jason FPO, AP, United States 11-19-13
    Jason FPO, AP, United States 11-19-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 02-27-13
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 02-27-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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

















    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eleanor 09-25-12
    Eleanor 09-25-12 Member Since 2012
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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

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    Conor Newton, MA, United States 04-25-11
    Conor Newton, MA, United States 04-25-11 Member Since 2015
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    "Some novel science plus a lot of speculation"

    Having heard of Ramachandran's work before reading this book, I had high expectations. Some of those were fulfilled, in hearing about synaesthesia and mirror neurons. However there is also a huge amount of plain discussion and even sheer speculation about art, beauty, and the evolution of human preferences. For example, he invents a list of principles of aesthetics, without reference to any artists or prior thinking on the subject. Overall there was enough science to make it interesting. The narration is a bit breathless, like listening to 777-FILM.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    elpaso 06-02-11
    elpaso 06-02-11 Member Since 2010
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    "tedious"

    About 10% of the book is worth the price of admission. The rest is selfserving and tiresome.

    4 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronda 11-13-13
    Ronda 11-13-13 Member Since 2011
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    "The brain according to an evolutionist"

    This might be a good book if half of it wasn't based on evolutionary imagination. I want science, what is, not speculation according to what evolutionary theory assumes. No one will ever convince me science can determine what the brain was like or how it developed millions of years ago. That's speculation, imagination, assumptions, and mythology. When I read a book about what science has discovered, I want to know just that, the facts, not a pile of unscientific, unproven ideas. Unfortunately, this author has taken the unscientific subject of evolution and threw in a smattering of true scientific discovery and lost all credibility in my mind, and my interest. I made it through the first 5 chapters and it never got any better.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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