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Mapping the Mind 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520219373
ISBN-10: 0520219376
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the last decades of the 20th century, scientists have come to believe that the human brain is almost completely modular. Every bit of the brain does something in particular, and surprisingly specific abilities, memories, and responses are in localized areas. Journalist Rita Carter has drawn a map of what is known (and speculated) about the mind in a heavily illustrated field guide to the human brain.

Carter and her scientific editor, neuropsychologist Christopher Frith, cover the state of the mind in a reasonably accurate, accessible way. They emphasize topics that are likely to be of some practical interest--such as Alzheimer's or attention deficit disorder--but not so much as to give a distorted picture of the field.

Perhaps the most interesting parts of the book are the sidebars written by a variety of leading names in mind-brain science. Roger Penrose writes on computer minds, Francis Crick on consciousness, Steven Rose on memory, John Maynard Smith on social evolution, William Calvin on mosaic minds, Kay Redfield Jamison on creativity and bipolar disorders, and more. It's a stellar assortment, more than worth the price of admission--and there's a map of the mind on the cover, in case you misplace yours. --Mary Ellen Curtin

From Publishers Weekly

Carter, a distinguished English medical journalist, has written a handsome and very accessible book designed to introduce laypeople to contemporary neurochemistry, neurobiology and brain research. Carter shows how this research has traced emotions, impressions, thoughts and behaviors?from tasting a sprig of thyme to solving a math problem to killing an intruder?to particular parts of the brain. Descriptions of normal brain function are interspersed with details about the research and about extraordinary, illuminating cases: of the woman to whom the name "Richard" tasted like chocolate, of the man who tried to have sex with a sidewalk. Readers learn that sense-data from the eyes and ears go first to the thalamus; that falling in love may be caused by a single chemical called oxytocin; and that one thinker, Itzhak Fried, has hypothesized "syndrome E," a neurobiological disorder, in young men who carry out genocides. Mixing established knowledge with new speculations, Carter takes care to tell readers which is which. She strews her text with bright diagrams and pictures, and avoids specialized or technical language: readers of Scientific American, or even of Oliver Sacks, may find themselves wishing for more detail. Carter seems to be writing for adults and teens who don't know the field and want to learn it, and she does it right. Short inset essays (some by distinguished scientists, others by Carter) address such specific topics as the chemistry of drug addiction, the origins of autism and alleged differences between gay and straight brains. 100 color & 50 b&w illustrations.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (March 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520219376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520219373
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 8.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #666,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Ferrari on October 7, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had recently read "The Developing Mind" by Dan Siegel (an excellent but slow reading book because it is crammed with interesting data). I decided I wanted a book where I could visualize what goes on in what parts of the brain. This book is it: Great pictures and comprehensive easy-to-read summaries of the functions of all parts of the brain.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a retired neurobiologist who teaches a short course for adult learners entitled "An Operator's Guide To The Brain." I have used dozens of books from which to draw material, as well as my own research experiences on the cellular biology of neurons. None of these books is as valuable to me as Carter's "Mapping The Mind." The graphics are superb, and the layout of the book, where text, text boxes, the words of specialists, and graphics, are used to drive home the message, is remarkably creative. The information presented is very up-to-date, and there is so much to learn that the book lends itself to revisiting over and over. Of all my "brain" books, this is the one I would keep if only one had to be chosen. No doubt some will argue that the layout isn't as integrated and coherent as it might be, what with text boxes popping up here and there to interrupt word flow, and others might quibble about Carter's take on this or that, on the whole this is a truly remarkable book. In ten years some of it will be outdated by new findings in a fast-moving field, but the work nevertheless is truly inspired.
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Format: Paperback
This book contains alot of good information about the functions and pathways used in the brain. But I think there are a number of areas where I disagree with her conclusions and those of at least one boxed "expert" reports. The boxed expert is Steven Mithren from the University of Reading. He speculates that racism may have arisen because H. Sapiens Sapiens, with advanced "social and technical intelligence" may confuse the social (fellow man) with technical objects which provides the potential for some races to believe that other races are inferior to others because of a mixing of thoughts about humans, animals and objects. He believes our social/technical knowlegde provides a potential to treat others as objects. "There is no compulsion to do this, simply the potential for it to happen." When it comes to human thought, there is the potential for anything to happen. He points out that this has happened throughout human history. The tendency to see others as objects already has a diagnosis and its not "Cognitive Fluidity." Its Antisocial personality disorder. Its something hard to prove either way but it seems like a speculation that few good scientists would engage in.

When the author discusses "theory of mind" she believes it is an innate human ability to know what is in another person's mind. That is not literally true. Theory of mind is when we begin to realize that people have different thoughts and attitudes than we do. It also, depending on the definer, may include the ability to infer what other people are thinking because of what they say and how they act. We never know what is in another person's mind even if they tell us directly.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is part textbook, part coffee table decorum, and part lavish work of art, but the overriding scientific data and lively prose string all the parts into a reasonably cohesive whole that is well worth the price. Carter covers the functions of the brain more clearly than any other cognitive neuroscience book around, and since she doesn't push any specific theory, but simply reports what is known and what is not (almost always indicating a delineation between speculation and knowledge--such as in the chapter on consciousness), her book is refreshingly objective in a field too often dominated by competing theories and egoic arrogance.
Best of all, the book is profusely illustrated with enough truly artistic paintings, photos, and diagrams to almost override the text itself in terms of usefulness and information value. As an illustrated textbook on neuroanatomy and as a comprehensive primer on neuropsychology, you can do no better. This book accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do, and for that I recommend it highly.
Unfortunately, like the vast majority of modern psychology and neuroscience texts, this book suffers from the gravest of metaphysical mistakes--namely the egregiously reductionistic approach known variously as scientific materialism, positivism, physicalism, scientism, and material monism. The first line of the book summary says it all: "Today a brain scan reveals our thoughts, moods, and memories as clearly as an X-ray reveals our bones. We can actually observe a person's brain registering a joke or experiencing a painful memory." The fallacy in the first sentence should be obvious. There is absolutely no empirical device that reveals the specific content of thoughts, moods, or memories.
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Format: Paperback
Rita Carter’s work makes it abundantly clear what a good journalist has to offer the scientific and technical worlds. Normally I have my doubts about writers delving in areas in which they have little or no expertise; however, I also have great difficulty plowing through the sometimes arcane and ponderous prose of professionals. Ms Carter’s careful work and her collaboration with respected researchers in the field of neurophysiology and neuropsychology make her work a very reliable and useful overview of the current knowledge in those fields.
When I first purchased Mapping the Mind for a class on mind and the brain, I looked at some of the illustrations and thought "..., this is going to be dull as dust!" Since it was on the "suggested reading" list, I ignored it until the class was completed and didn’t manage to get back to it again until just recently.
Wow! Was I wrong. Instead of a boring recitation of anatomy-phys and a collection of totally unmemorable biochemical detail, the book is a fascinating compendium of what is known of brain anatomy and it’s function and how these combine to create what we consider to be the "I" of me. Most of the information has been compiled over years of research on the unfortunates of this world, individuals who have suffered accidents, malignancies, occlusive strokes or cerebral bleeds in or to clearly defined areas of their brains. By studying what nature and happenstance have put in their path, neuroscientists have been able to produced a map of the brain and of the mental or physical deficits that arise from the malfunction of any given region of it.
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