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Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are Paperback – January 28, 2003
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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.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The book is well written, flows nicely until the near end,(drags a little just after chapter 6 however, that is why a 4 not a 5 rating) i'd recommend "synaptic sickness" be moved to an appendix if it couldn't be integrated into the body of the book better. The scholarly apparatus is kept to a minimum yet the push to ratify/justify the new knowledge via experimental data and reference to other scientists work is clearly evident and makes the book a good intro to the field, as further study is facilitated. I found the use of concrete experimental examples and the prolific use of diagrams (especially figures 6.4 - 6.6) particularly good(very superior), the book was always engrossing and a stimulating read, not common in books written by scientists who are not teachers as well.
As to particularly important ideas: i would point to chapter 6= "small change" and the systematic analysis of Hebbian plasticity and how long-term potentiation supplies the synaptic justification for memory and learning the key chapter in the whole book.Read more ›
LeDoux's Synaptic Self is a wonderful book loaded with clear understandable explanations and insights (his wife, a "fantastic writer," assisted) on how the brain works based on the most current neuroscience (e.g., how neurons/synapses/neurotransmitters/neuro modulators work/don't work, implicit/explicit learning/memory mechanism explanations, nature/nurture considerations, the "mental trilogy" of cognition/emotion/motivation, and much more). The book's bottom-line, he writes, is "you are your synapses." With this book, "know thyself," and even fix thyself, seem more attainable. It's a book I'll reread/study for a while.
The following are quotes from the last chapter:
Life requires many brain functions, functions require systems, and systems are made of synaptically connected neurons. We all have the same brain systems, and the number of neurons in each brain system is more or less the same in each of us as well. However, the particular way those neurons are connected is distinct, and that uniqueness, in short, is what makes us who we are.
What is remarkable is that synapses in all of these systems are capable of being modified by experience... Emotion systems [as an example]... are programmed by evolution to respond to some stimuli, so-called innate or unconditioned stimuli, like predators or pain. However, many of the things that elicit emotions in us or motivate us to act in certain ways are not preprogrammed into our brains as part of our species heritage but have to be learned by each of us.Read more ›
Ledoux concentrates on memory, having in his last book focused on emotion. He explains memory systems from molecules to circuits, with the classical and most recent findings, including some from his own lab. He also gives a quick overview of the emotional systems of the brain, the working memory complex of the prefrontal cortex, and motivational systems of neuromodulator and brainstem and thalamocortical systems. He calls that the mental trilogy, namely cognition, emotion and motivation. Ledoux also wrote a nice chapter on some brain diseases that seem to alter these functions selectively. And thats it. Ledoux has explained the self. Or has he? Well, memory, emotion, cognition and motivation surely contribute to the making of the self, especially memory. How much of a self is left in a retrograde and anterograde severe amnesic? But this is not saying that putting them together is all the self is about. Its like saying vision, attention and waking are what consicousness is.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
cool read mixing the question are we what we think or do we think then becomePublished 8 months ago by Royal
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 14 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 18 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 19 months ago by James R. Cook III
Innovative and pivotal book on theme and area that is only in it first steps. Thanks.Published 21 months ago by Moshe Fruktman