Brains: How They Seem to Work (FT Press Science)

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9780137055098: Brains: How They Seem to Work (FT Press Science)

For 50 years, the world’s most brilliant neuroscientists have struggled to understand how human brains really work. Today, says Dale Purves, the dominant research agenda may have taken us as far as it can--and neuroscientists may be approaching a paradigm shift.

 

In this highly personal book, Purves reveals how we got to this point and offers his notion of where neuroscience may be headed next. Purves guides you through a half-century of the most influential ideas in neuroscience and introduces the extraordinary scientists and physicians who created and tested them.

 

Purves offers a critical assessment of the paths that neuroscience research has taken, their successes and their limitations, and then introduces an alternative approach for thinking about brains. Building on new research on visual perception, he shows why common ideas about brain networks can’t be right and uncovers the factors that determine our subjective experience. The resulting insights offer a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.

 

· Why we need a better conception of what brains are trying to do and how they do it
   Approaches to understanding the brain over the past several decades may be at an impasse

· The surprising lessons that can be learned from what we see
   How complex neural processes owe more to trial-and-error experience than to logical principles

· Brains--and the people who think about them
   Meet some of the extraordinary individuals who’ve shaped neuroscience

· The “ghost in the machine” problem
   The ideas presented further undermine the concept of free will

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From the Back Cover:

"Dale Purves' Brains is my favorite sort of reading--an engaging and intelligent scientific autobiography full of vivid personal and historical accounts; the story not only of a life but of an intellectual pursuit. Purves has a unique voice, lively, outspoken, and very human--and his love of science comes through on every page." --Oliver Sacks "Brains is an engaging tour of human neuroscience from one of its most distinguished and opinionated practitioners. Dale Purves is a lively and informative guide to the field, having been at the scene of some of its great discoveries and having made many important discoveries himself." --Steven Pinker, Harvard University, author of "The Stuff of Thought" "A rare account of both the modern history of key discoveries in brain research by someone who was there and responsible for many of them and also a heartfelt account of the joy of it all. Dale Purves has given us an inside view of a life in science and explains with clarity what it all means." --Michael S. Gazzaniga, University of California, Santa Barbara,
author of "Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique" "Brains is a delightful book that weaves together Dale Purves' personal neuroscience history with the history and current status of the field. I enjoyed it start to finish." --Joseph LeDoux, New York University, author of "The Emotional Brain" and "Synaptic Self" "This book is many things. It's the memoir of an immensely likeable human (who I only previously knew as a distant giant in my field). It's people with strong personalities that give lie to the notion that science is an affectless process. But most of all, it is a clear, accessible, affectionate biography of neuroscience. This is a terrific book." --Robert M. Sapolsky, Stanford University, author of "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" "Both highly entertaining and educational. A masterpiece." --Bert Sakmann, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine For 50 years, the world's most brilliant neuroscientists have struggled to understand how human brains really work. Today, says Dale Purves, the dominant research agenda may have taken us as far as it can--and neuroscientists may be approaching a paradigm shift. In this highly personal book, Purves reveals how we got to this point and offers his notion of where neuroscience may be headed next. Purves guides you through a half-century of the most influential ideas in neuroscience and introduces the extraordinary scientists and physicians who created and tested them. Purves offers a critical assessment of the paths that neuroscience research has taken, their successes and their limitations, and then introduces an alternative approach for thinking about brains. Building on new research on visual perception, he shows why common ideas about brain networks can't be right and uncovers the factors that determine our subjective experience. The resulting insights offer a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.

  • Why we need a better conception of what brains are trying to do and how they do it
    "A""pproaches to understanding the brain over the past several decades may be at an impasse"
  • The surprising lessons that can be learned from what we see
    "How complex neural processes owe more to trial-and-error experience than to logical principles"
  • Brains--and the people who think about them
    "Meet some of the extraordinary individuals who've shaped neuroscience"
  • The "ghost in the machine" problem
    "The ideas presented further undermine the concept of free will"

About the Author:

Dale Purves is Professor of Neurobiology, Psychology and Neuroscience, and Philosophy at Duke University. He is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Medical School. Upon completion of an internship and assistant residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Purves was a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School and subsequently in the Department of Biophysics at University College London. He joined the faculty at Washington University School of Medicine in 1973 where he was Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, and came to Duke in 1990 as the founding chair of the Department of Neurobiology in the School of Medicine. From 2003 to 2009 he was Director of Duke’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, and is now Director of the Neuroscience and Behavioral Disorders Program of the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine.

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