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)
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.
An engaging probe into the recesses of the brain with extremely interesting findings. A quirky recounting of his brilliant research.
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.
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.
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. .
This is a great book; but since it's an audiobook, if you aren't familiar with brain structures off the top of your head then it can be a little confusing for the average layman reader.
Dr. Ramachandran's first book 'Phantoms in the Brain' was better at capturing science and research based experiences. This book is more founded on philosophical questions and theoretical ideas. Good but not as good as the first book in my opinion.
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