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