The Private Life of the Brain (Penguin Press Science)

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9780140264913: The Private Life of the Brain (Penguin Press Science)

With great originality, celebrated neuroscientist Susan A. Greenfield shows that states of abandon - intensely felt experiences of pleasure, exhilaration, joy and pain - in fact draw us to the centre of the mind. Between emotion and the mind there is no dichotomy, but rather a continuum in which we create the self. With passion and learning, Susan Greenfield addresses the most fascinating aspects of contemporary neuroscience, revealing exactly what happens to the brain when we are in the throes of an intense experience. How do drugs act on the brain? How might an understanding of the science of emotion help us better understand schizophrenia and depression? What is the relationship between pleasure and fear? Why is it impossible to maintain a state of high arousal for more than a brief period? Challenging a series of common assumptions about the relationship between emotion and the brain, Susan Greenfield finally asks whether "mind-blowing" experiences might in fact form the basis of consciousness. Informed by the most recent neuroscience, "The Private Life of the Brain" develops new models with which to answer these questions.

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What's going on in there? One of the great scientific and philosophical mysteries is how a few pounds of wet, salty cobwebs can give rise to the rich experience that we call consciousness. Oxford neuroscientist Susan Greenfield peers inside the dimly lit skull to show us what she thinks is going on in The Private Life of the Brain. Greenfield has a great facility for explaining tricky scientific concepts in language that is engaging to all readers. She presents the basics of contemporary thought on consciousness as they relate to her own theory involving a continuum of experience between sensual, emotional grounding in the surrounding world and rational, cognitive withdrawal into mental life. Arguing from a wide range of animal and human research, as well as the work of philosophers such as John Searle and Daniel Dennett, she makes her case compellingly but gently, allowing that other theories might also hold in this still-uncharted territory. Looking in depth at depression, drug use, and fear, Greenfield shows how each is explained by her continuum theory and how each relates to the life of the human organism as a whole. Could it be true that as our minds work harder, our hearts lose some feeling, and vice versa? Whether or not the idea withstands time and testing, it is intriguing and thought-provoking, making The Private Life of the Brain essential reading for minds seeking self-enlightenment. -- Rob Lightner

From the Back Cover:

How does the human brain produce your private world? Critically acclaimed neuroscientist and author Susan Greenfield, who holds the prestigious position of Director of the Royal Institution in England, weaves together a thought–provoking examination of childhood experiences, primal emotions, such as fear and euphoria, and the effects drugs have on our personalities to probe the most intriguing mystery facing todayís scientists: How does the human brain create consciousness and a unique sense of self? In this absorbing, lyrical exploration, Dr. Greenfield presents a provocative new theory that treats emotions as the building blocks of our consciousness and provides an illuminating glimpse into the human brain that reveals the astonishing essence of who we are.

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Greenfield, Susan
ISBN 10: 0140264914 ISBN 13: 9780140264913
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M and N Media
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