The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human Reprint Edition, Kindle Edition
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- Length: 385 pages
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"A profoundly intriguing and compelling guide to the intricacies of the human brain." —Oliver Sacks
In this landmark work, V. S. Ramachandran investigates strange, unforgettable cases—from patients who believe they are dead to sufferers of phantom limb syndrome. With a storyteller’s eye for compelling case studies and a researcher’s flair for new approaches to age-old questions, Ramachandran tackles the most exciting and controversial topics in brain science, including language, creativity, and consciousness.
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From Publishers Weekly
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- ASIN : B004HW6AGA
- Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (January 17, 2011)
- Publication date : January 17, 2011
- Language : English
- File size : 2329 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 385 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #218,194 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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The author mainly speaks about his own research, but his own research is great enough for this interesting book.
There are also lots of examples of brilliant ideas on how to answer questions in research.
While I really enjoyed this book, there are a few caveats:
a. The author claims that he planned this book also for non-scientists. While formally this is true, the rate in which he invokes new terminology and uses it, might cause an overload and be overwhelming for anyone with no or little prior knowledge.
b. A considerable part of the book is about assumptions by the author. This, by itself is fine, but at times it was disappointing for me to see him starts a topic which is of great interest for me, just in order to offer a rough speculation and move on.
c. At times he seems to underestimate the contribution of others.
"The Tell-Tale Brain" is an insightful look into the intriguing world of neuroscience and what makes us uniquely human. Accomplished neuroscientist and author of " Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind " takes the reader on a ride of his life's work inside the connections between brain, mind and body. Using an approach that involves studying patients with damaged parts of their brains that lead to peculiar behavior; Dr. Ramachandran shares what he has learned from countless examples of brain disorders. This enlightening 384-page book is composed of the following nine chapters: 1.Phantom Limbs and Plastic Brains, 2. Seeing and Knowing, 3. Loud Colors and Hot Babes: Synesthesia, 4. The Neurons that Shaped Civilization, 5. Where Is Steven? The Riddle of Autism, 6. The Power of Babble: The Evolution of Language, 7. Beauty and the Brain: The Emergence of Aesthetics, 8. The Artful Brain: Universal Laws, and 9. An Ape with a Soul: How Introspection Evolved.
1. Engaging writing style and great insights into neuroscience at an accessible level.
2. The fascinating world of neuroscience through personal case studies.
3. Good use of charts and diagrams.
4. Thought-provoking questions and answers based on a combination of sound science and educated speculation.
5. The author is candid on the limited knowledge we have in this young field but provides countless tidbits that whets ones appetite for more research.
6. Many thought-provoking ideas, "When informed that their conscious self emerges `simply' from the mindless agitations of atoms and molecules in their brains, people often feel let down, but they shouldn't."
7. The brain's amazing capacity for change (plasticity). How culture and evolution provided the impetus for change.
8. What makes the human brain truly unique; a look at how the brain processes visual information. Great Stuff!
9. Many great case studies; one of the most intriguing, synesthesia.
10. Mirror neurons at the heart of empathy. An evolutionary key to full-fledged culture.
11. Interesting insights into autism.
12. Explores how mirror neurons may have played a pivotal role in the development of language.
13. The brain's response to beauty and art. The author speculates on the possibility of real art (aesthetics). The nine laws of aesthetics.
14. The nature of self-awareness. Consciousness. The seven aspects of the self.
15. A look at disorders that create a sense of embodiment.
16. An interesting spectrum of mental disorders. Cotard and Capgras syndromes to name a few.
17. An excellent glossary of terms.
18. Links to notes and a formal bibliography.
1. Some of the attempts of humor fell flat. I would advise a neuroscientist to stay away from political and any type of humor that can be misconstrued as sexist.
2. The author gives the impression of reading his own press (egotistic). Honestly, it doesn't bother me too much but I can see it being annoying to others.
3. A basic refresher on evolution and how it relates to the brain would have added value to the book.
4. For the sake of clarity, scientists need to be clear on what the current scientific consensus is. There are times when the author tells you when he is speculating but there are also times when I'm not clear what the current scientific consensus is and it needs to be clearly pointed out.
In summary, I really enjoyed this book. Dr. Ramachandran's writing style and fascinating topic makes for a fun even though his overinflated ego can be distracting. That being said, neuroscience is a fascinating field and the author presents many interesting case studies to light on what makes our brains exceptional and thus human. A young field in the quest for answers, I highly recommend it!
Further suggestions: " Subliminal " by Leonard Mlodinow, " The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies---How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths " by Michael Shermer, " The Scientific American Brave New Brain: How Neuroscience, Brain-Machine Interfaces, Neuroimaging, Psychopharmacology, Epigenetics, the Internet, and ... and Enhancing the Future of Mental Power " by Judith Horstman, " The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature " by Steven Pinker, " Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain " and " Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique ", by Michael S. Gazzaniga, " Hardwired Behavior: What Neuroscience Reveals about Morality 1st Edition by Tancredi, Laurence published by Cambridge University Press Paperback " by Laurence Tancredi, " Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality [ BRAINTRUST: WHAT NEUROSCIENCE TELLS US ABOUT MORALITY BY Churchland, Patricia S. ( Author ) Aug-26-2012 " by Patricia S. Churchland, "Paranormality" by Richard Wiseman, and " The Brain and the Meaning of Life " by Paul Thagard.
The book is written in a conversational style that makes a difficult topic accessible to most readers, although I doubt that terms such as anosognosia or apotenophilia will stick with most of us for very long. The book has an excellent glossary and index sections which are very helpful.
The only gripe I have with the work is the gratuitous inclusion of political references that the author includes to make clinical points. The author's political leanings have zero interest for this reader and only serve to interrupt the flow of the narrative.
Top reviews from other countries
As an accomplished experimentalist devising ingenious experiments to confirm his hunches and hypotheses, he launches into adventurous speculations about the nature of language, the principles of aesthetic appreciation, the causes of autism among others; many hypotheses being framed by evolutionary biology. Among his contributions are the explanation of some brain disorders by the depletion of mirror neurons( autism), or the phenomenon of synesthesia with the abnormal overlap of contiguous synaptic connections explaining the associations of colours and numbers, words and shapes, and even phantom limbs etc.
However the book does not pretend to be the last word on Neurosciences. For instance the author doesn’t discuss neuroplasticity. He is less interested in the chemical neurotransmitters. They form another important subsystem as with the brain gut axis that explains some neurological disorders on the basis of either depletion or excessive production by certain gut bacteria of neuro chemicals that may be harmful. Again there is no discussion of the significance of the different brain waves and the new techniques of optogenetic stimulation, a recent neuromodulation technique combining optics and genetics to control the activities of individual neurons.
Neurosciences are advancing rapidly and no book can embrace the “ mind boggling” different approaches to the study of the Brain. Nevertheless the present text offers an exciting and stimulating perspective, possibly more conventional and clinically biased, but still quite illuminating and humane in its approach.
Never forgetting to position the working brain within the larger frame of human culture that surrounds it, it's a wonderfully well-rounded exploration of brain function through the pathological conditions he has come across in his work. Thoroughly recommended.