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A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness


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V. S. Ramachandran M.D., Ph.D., is director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego, and adjunct professor of biology at The Salk Institute. He has received many honors and awards including the presidential lecture award from the American Academy of Neurology and the Ramon Y Cajal award from the International Neuropsychiatry Society. He gave the inaugural keynote lecture at the Decade of the Brain conference held by National Institute of Mental Health at the Library of Congress. His critically acclaimed Phantoms in the Brain has been translated into eight languages. Newsweek named him a member of "the century club"--one of the hundred most prominent people to watch in the twenty-first century. He lives in Del Mar, California.


The fast-moving and potentially revolutionary field of cognitive neuroscience counts among its elite Ramachandran (Ctr. for Brain & Cognition, Univ. of California, San Diego), who expounds upon some puzzling paradoxes in brain research and their possible implications. Based on lectures from the prestigious BBC Reith series, these five essays are a selective presentation of certain anomalies of perception, what they suggest about the brain's neural wiring, and what they may reveal about the evolution of the human mind. In one of his most controversial assertions, the author discusses how an appreciation of art might originate in a universal human attraction to certain patterns and stimuli and how art and science long estranged in academe might be unified in a new science that he calls neuroaesthetics. He even proposes that brain research could eventually help answer philosophical questions previously excluded from empirical scientific research, e.g., what is the self, and does it possess free will? Fascinating and comprehensible, the text consists of brief chapters that are rich in content. Bibliographers responsible for popular science collections should heed the boom in this field; this book deserves a place in their libraries. Gregg Sapp, Science Lib., SUNY at Albany Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

What does an amputee who still feels a phantom limb have in common with an avant-garde artist, or a schizophrenic who claims to be controlled by alien implants, or an autistic child who can draw a hyper-realistic horse? According to neuroscientist Ramachandran (coauthor, Phantoms in the Brain), named by Newsweek one of the 100 people to watch in the 21st century, the answer lies deep in the physical structures of the brain, and his new book offers a thought-provoking survey of his area of research. Through examples, anecdotes and conjecture, Ramachandran aims "to make neuroscience... more accessible to a broad audience." In this he succeeds admirably, explaining how the roots of both psychological disorders and aesthetic accomplishment can be located in the various regions of the brain and the connections (or lack thereof) between them. The text is engaging and readable, feeling as though Ramachandran had sat down for an afternoon to explain his research over tea (no surprise, as the book grew out of the author's 2003 BBC Reith lectures). Though the topic of neuroscience might initially seem daunting, readers who enjoy science popularization in the vein of Oliver Sacks, Richard Dawkins (both of whom enthusiastically blurb this book) and Stephen Jay Gould will find much to appreciate here. Agent, Deirdre Mullane at the Joe Spieler Agency. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"V. S. Ramachandran is one of our most gifted physicians and expositors, and in this new book he illuminates everything he touches--whether it is phantom limbs and how they can be 'cured'; or how the brain can generate illusions and delusions; or synesthesia and its relation to metaphor, creativity and art; or the ultimate questions of how brain relates to mind. A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness belongs to that rare category of scientific book, one as accessible as it is deep."--Oliver Sacks, M.D., bestselling author of Gratitude and On the Move

"Packed with ideas that are bold, irreverent, original, and ingenious. A breath of fresh air."--David Hubel, Nobel Laureate, Harvard University "An extraordinary book by a remarkable scientist!... the modern Paul Broca."--Eric R. Kandel, M.D., Nobel Laureate, Columbia University "An engaging book featuring a remarkable degree of insight, originality, and erudition."--Neurology Today

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