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What would you say about a woman who, despite stroke-induced paralysis crippling the entire left side of her body, insists that she is whole and strong--who even sees her left hand reach out to grasp objects? Freud called it "denial"; neurologists call it "anosognosia." However it may be labeled, this phenomenon and others like it allow us peeks into other mental worlds and afford us considerable insight into our own.
The writings of Oliver Sacks and others have shown us that we can learn much about ourselves by looking closely at the deficits shown by people with neurological problems. V.S. Ramachandran has seen countless patients suffering from anosognosia, phantom limb pain, blindsight, and other disorders, and he brings a remarkable mixture of clinical intuition and research savvy to bear on their problems. He is one of the few scientists who are able and willing to explore the personal, subjective ramifications of his work; he rehumanizes an often too-sterile field and captures the spirit of wonder so essential for true discovery. Phantoms in the Brain is equal parts medical mystery, scientific adventure, and philosophical speculation; Ramachandran's writing is smart, caring, and very, very funny.
Whether you're curious about the workings of the brain, interested in alternatives to expensive, high-tech science (much of Ramachandran's research is done with materials found around the home), or simply want a fresh perspective on the nature of human consciousness, you'll find satisfaction with Phantoms in the Brain. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In these unsettling tales from a neuroscientist every bit as quirky as the more famous Oliver Sacks, Ramachandran sets out his beliefs that no matter how bizarre the case, empirical, strikingly simple testing can illuminate the ways brain circuitry establishes "self." In a chatty, nearly avuncular style, he (along with his coauthor, a New York Times science writer) snatches territory from philosophers on how we think we know what we know. In one experiment, stroking an amputee's cheek produces sensations in his "phantom limb" because the part of the brain's map that once related to the lost limb has "invaded" the adjacent brain area that relates to the cheek. Unafraid to speculate, Ramachandran then moves a step closer toward indicating that the brain is not only a busy lump of genetically deemed-and-dying hard-wiring but an organ that can continuously "re-map" in response to new sensory information from the outside. Equally fascinating are Ramachandran's "mirror tricks" on amputees and paralyzed patients that begin to reveal how much the brain relies on context and comparison as well as on "inside" neural connectivity to form self. Perhaps most disquieting are beginnings of proof that much brain activity, including what we like to think of as uniquely human behavior, happens unbidden. There may be no escape from the un-Western conclusion that self is only a limited illusion. "De-throning man," as the author points out, is at the heart of most revolutionary scientific thought. Regrettably, his book sags in the middle as it drifts from these deft experiments into generalized musings on idiot-savants and phantom pregnancies, detracting from what is otherwise entertaining, tip-of-the-neurological-iceberg sleuthing. Photos and line drawings throughout. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I love reading these stories and the interactions that Dr. Ramachandran has with his patients. The book is written in a way that is informative but still easy to read for the... Read morePublished 9 days ago by Stefany
Very interesting when it comes to phantom limbs study although not much into other studies of brain functionPublished 10 days ago by María del Carmen Yáñez López
Very interesting read. Had to read for a class and found the material pretty enjoyable.Published 4 months ago by VP
Dr. V. S. Ramachandran is a top neuroscientist, who is internationally respected. I have acquired a great deal of insight into the functioning of the human brain. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Suresh C. Mathur
I value Dr.Ramacgandran's perspective of neurological conditions and diseases. He is clearly an expert in his field. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mary-Claire