How can some people come to believe that their poodle is an impostor? Or see colors in numbers? Internationally acclaimed neuroscientist, V.S. Ramachandran, now shares his unique insight into human consciousness in an entertaining, inspiring, and intellectually dazzling brief tour of the ultimate frontier--the thoughts in our heads. A Brief Tour ...
How can some people come to believe that their poodle is an impostor? Or see colors in numbers? Internationally acclaimed neuroscientist, V.S. Ramachandran, now shares his unique insight into human consciousness in an entertaining, inspiring, and intellectually dazzling brief tour of the ultimate frontier--the thoughts in our heads. A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness is made up of five investigations of the greatest mysteries of the brain. The first chapter shows how amputees feel pain in limbs they no longer have as it introduces the great revolution of our age: neuroscience. The second chapter walks through the way what we see determines our thoughts, and demonstrates the counterintuitive point that believing is in fact seeing. The third chapter takes a leap beyond cutting edge science to audaciously set out a general theory of beauty, explaining why, the world over, cultures have fundamentally similar notions of what is attractive. The fourth chapter explores the bizarre world of synesthetes, people who see colors in numbers, textures in smells, sounds in sights, and flavors in sounds. Finally, V. S. Ramachandran one of the foremost brain researchers in the world today, sums up the implications of the revolution in our understanding of consciousness, to make a fascinating argument about our essential sense of self and its distributed nature.
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This book reads very quickly and it provides a lot of entertainment. The disorders discussed by the author really exemplify the discoveries he has made about how the human brain works. Some of the theories about aesthetics seem a little bit far fetched, but they are well presented and certainly provide for an involving read.
My one complaint is that the book seems short. I devoured it in a couple of hours in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport and was left wanting more. Ramachandran has the writing skills to provide a more in depth look at these topics without losing the cheerful accessibility that makes this book so wonderful.
Publishers Weekly, 2004-06-07 What does an amputee who still feels a phantom limb have in common with an avant-garde artist, or a schizophrenic who claims to be controlled by alien implants, or an autistic child who can draw a hyper-realistic horse? According to neuroscientist Ramachandran (coauthor, Phantoms in the Brain), named by Newsweek one of the 100 people to watch in the 21st century, the answer lies deep in the physical structures of the brain, and his new book offers a thought-provoking survey of his area of research. Through examples, anecdotes and conjecture, Ramachandran aims "to make neuroscience... more accessible to a broad audience." In this he succeeds admirably, explaining how the roots of both psychological disorders and aesthetic accomplishment can be located in the various regions of the brain and the connections (or lack thereof) between them. The text is engaging and readable, feeling as though Ramachandran had sat down for an afternoon to explain his research over tea (no surprise, as the book grew out of the author's 2003 BBC Reith lectures). Though the topic of neuroscience might initially seem daunting, readers who enjoy science popularization in the vein of Oliver Sacks, Richard Dawkins (both of whom enthusiastically blurb this book) and Stephen Jay Gould will find much to appreciate here. Agent, Deirdre Mullane at the Joe Spieler Agency. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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