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A middle-aged neuroscientist walking down Bourbon Street spots a T-shirt that reads, "I don't know, so maybe I'm not." This stimulus zooms from eyes to brain, neuron by neuron, via tiny junctions called synapses. The results? An immediate chuckle and (sometime later) a groundbreaking book titled The Synaptic Self. To Joseph LeDoux, the simple question, "What makes us who we are?" represents the driving force behind his 20-plus years of research into the cognitive, emotional, and motivational functions of the brain.
LeDoux believes the answer rests in the synapses, key players in the brain's intricately designed communication system. In other words, the pathways by which a person's "hardwired" responses (nature) mesh with his or her unique life experiences (nurture) determine that person's individuality. Here, LeDoux nimbly compresses centuries of philosophy, psychology, and biology into an amazingly clear picture of humanity's journey toward understanding the self.
Equally readable is his comprehensive science lesson, where detailed circuit speak reads like an absorbing--yet often humorous--mystery novel. Skillfully presenting research studies and findings alongside their various implications, LeDoux makes a solid case for accepting a synaptic explanation of existence and provides to the reader generous helpings of knowledge, amusement, and awe along the way. --Liane Thomas --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Despite ongoing debate about the root cause of psychological disorders, most agree that the development of the self is central to the distinction between normality and psychopathology. Yet neuroscientists have been slow to probe the biological basis for our sense of self, focusing instead on states of consciousness. LeDoux (The Emotional Brain), professor at New York University's Center for Neural Sciences, has come up with a theory: it's the neural pathways the synaptic relationships in our brains that make us who we are. Starting with a description of basic neural anatomy (including how neurons communicate, the brain's embryological development and some of the key neural pathways), LeDoux reviews experiments and research, arguing that the brain's synaptic connections provide the biological base for memory, which makes possible the sense of continuity and permanence fundamental to a "normal" conception of self. Writing for a general audience, he succeeds in making his subject accessible to the dedicated nonspecialist. He offers absorbing descriptions of some of the most fascinating case studies in his field, provides insight into the shortcomings of psychopharmacology and suggests new directions for research on the biology of mental illness. While some may disagree with LeDoux's conclusion that "the brain makes the self" through its synapses, he makes an important contribution to the literature on the relationship between these two entities. Agents, Katinka Matson and John Brockman. (On-sale: Jan. 14)
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Editorial Reviews
Very well written and easy to follow, but requires an invested person to absorb all the information--in other words, this is not a light read! Read morePublished 4 months ago by Dante
Old book, old knowledge.
The author lost me at page 4 when he goes on to say that the brain is different at birth based on genetics. Read more
According to Shakespeare, the brain is the ''The souls frail dwelling house'' (King John. Act 5, Scene 7). Read morePublished 8 months ago by Simon Laub
A very good book for the layman. The science and termimology can be a bit overwhelming at times, but this book presents the infinite complexity of the brain and the synaptic... Read morePublished 9 months ago by James R. Cook III
Innovative and pivotal book on theme and area that is only in it first steps. Thanks.Published 11 months ago by Moshe Fruktman
Once again, author and neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux successfully takes his readers on a journey to explore the foundations of brain and behavior. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Alex