A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness: From Impostor Poodles to Purple Numbers

 
9780131486867: A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness: From Impostor Poodles to Purple Numbers

A brilliant, wryly humorous, brief tour of the human mind built on first hand experience with patients and a dazzling research career. This long awaited new book by V.S. Ramachandran is akin to the bestselling works about patients by Oliver SacksWhat is body image? Why do we blush? What is art? What is free will? What is self? Until recently, these questions were the province of philosophy, but studies of the brain are now producing explanations based on research anyone can see for themselves in PET scans and MRI images. Neuroscientists such as V.S. Ramachandran are now unlocking the key to what many have considered the metaphysics of our consciousness. This knowledge of the brain has progressed so rapidly few have yet recognized it for what it is. It will change how we think of human beings, even our very notion of understanding. This is a revolution, already underway that will have impact on all our lives. But until this book, topics such as art, creativity and love have received very little attention from neurology and new findings have not been offered in an approachable way. Dr. Ramachandran presents new theories and experiments that illuminate the biggest questions we can ask. Picking up where the great earlier thinkers like Freud, and Darwin began, V.S. Ramachandran and his colleagues are forging a whole new science. Walk through a final frontier of human knowledge with the perfect, eloquent, expert guide on this unique brief tour.

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From the Back Cover:

" Vintage Ramachandran, packed with ideas that are bold, irreverent, original, and ingenious. People who have never thought much about the brain will be intrigued, but so will those who, like me, have spent most of their lives thinking about the brain. It is truly a breath of fresh air."

–David Hubel, Nobel Laureate, Harvard University, author of Eye, Brain, and Vision

" An extraordinary book by a remarkable scientist! Ramachandran is in many ways the modern Paul Broca, the great French neurologist who opened up the biological analysis of higher mental functions by studying patients with brain lesions. In a similar vein Ramachandran has used the study of patients to elucidate a range of fascinating mental functions. His insights have stimulated discussions in neuroscience over the last 25 years. Here is Ramachandran at his best; his most lucid and creative."

–Eric R. Kandel, M.D., Nobel Laureate, Columbia University

" Ramachandran is a latter-day Marco Polo, journeying the silk road of science to strange and exotic Cathays of the mind. He returns laden with phenomenological treasures...which, in his subtle and expert telling, yield more satisfying riches of scientific understanding."

–Richard Dawkins, Oxford University, author of The Blind Watchmaker

" An unusually clever neuroscientist explains baffling cases in neurology and neuropsychiatry and concludes that brain science can now resolve many of the age-old quanderies of philosophers. A thought-provoking, wonderful read."

–Roger Guillemin, Nobel Laureate, The Salk Institute

" Today we're going through a revolution in neuroscience. The tidal wave of new research can be overwhelming, but V. S. Ramachandran, drawing on his own pioneering work on patients, succeeds in creating a witty, elegant introduction to the mysteries and revelations to be found within our skulls."

–Carl Zimmer, author of Soul Made Flesh

"V. S. Ramachandran is one of our most gifted physicians and expositors, and in this new book he illuminates everything he touches—whether it is phantom limbs and how they can be 'cured'; or how the brain can generate illusions and delusions; or synesthesia and its relation to metaphor, creativity, and art; or the ultimate questions of how brain relates to mind.A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness belongs to that rare category of scientific book, one as accessible as it is deep."

Oliver Sacks, M.D.

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 how 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 neuroscientists 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.

Take a tour with the perfect guide to one of the strangest places in the natural world, the human mind.

V. S. Ramachandran, M.D., Ph.D., is Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego, and Adjunct Professor of Biology at The Salk Institute. He has received many honors and awards including the Presidential Lecture Award from the American Academy of Neurology and the Ramon y Cajal Award from the International Neuropsychiatry Society.

He gave the inaugural keynote lecture at the Decade of the Brain conference held by the National Institute of Mental Health at the Library of Congress. His critically acclaimed Phantoms in the Brain has been translated into eight languages. Newsweek has named him a member of "The Century Club"—one of the hundred most prominent people to watch in the twenty-first century.

He lives in Del Mar, California.


© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

About the Author:

V.S. Namachandran is Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and professor in the Psychology Department and Neurosciences Program at the University of California San Diego, and Adjunct Professor of Biology at the Salk Institute. He is also a fellow of the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla and a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. Dr. Ramachandran has published over 120 papers in scientific journals (including three invited review articles in Scientific American). He is Editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Human Behaviour and author of the critically acclaimed book Phantoms in the Brain, which has been translated into eight languages.

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