kode adsense disini
Hot Best Seller

Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind

Availability: Ready to download

What would you say about a woman who, despite stroke-induced paralysis crippling the entire left side of her body, insists that she is whole and strong--who even sees her left hand reach out to grasp objects? Freud called it "denial"; neurologists call it "anosognosia." However it may be labeled, this phenomenon and others like it allow us peeks into other mental worlds an What would you say about a woman who, despite stroke-induced paralysis crippling the entire left side of her body, insists that she is whole and strong--who even sees her left hand reach out to grasp objects? Freud called it "denial"; neurologists call it "anosognosia." However it may be labeled, this phenomenon and others like it allow us peeks into other mental worlds and afford us considerable insight into our own. The writings of Oliver Sacks and others have shown us that we can learn much about ourselves by looking closely at the deficits shown by people with neurological problems. V.S. Ramachandran has seen countless patients suffering from anosognosia, phantom limb pain, blindsight, and other disorders, and he brings a remarkable mixture of clinical intuition and research savvy to bear on their problems. He is one of the few scientists who are able and willing to explore the personal, subjective ramifications of his work; he rehumanizes an often too-sterile field and captures the spirit of wonder so essential for true discovery. Phantoms in the Brain is equal parts medical mystery, scientific adventure, and philosophical speculation; Ramachandran's writing is smart, caring, and very, very funny. Whether you're curious about the workings of the brain, interested in alternatives to expensive, high-tech science (much of Ramachandran's research is done with materials found around the home), or simply want a fresh perspective on the nature of human consciousness, you'll find satisfaction with Phantoms in the Brain. --Rob Lightner


Compare
kode adsense disini

What would you say about a woman who, despite stroke-induced paralysis crippling the entire left side of her body, insists that she is whole and strong--who even sees her left hand reach out to grasp objects? Freud called it "denial"; neurologists call it "anosognosia." However it may be labeled, this phenomenon and others like it allow us peeks into other mental worlds an What would you say about a woman who, despite stroke-induced paralysis crippling the entire left side of her body, insists that she is whole and strong--who even sees her left hand reach out to grasp objects? Freud called it "denial"; neurologists call it "anosognosia." However it may be labeled, this phenomenon and others like it allow us peeks into other mental worlds and afford us considerable insight into our own. The writings of Oliver Sacks and others have shown us that we can learn much about ourselves by looking closely at the deficits shown by people with neurological problems. V.S. Ramachandran has seen countless patients suffering from anosognosia, phantom limb pain, blindsight, and other disorders, and he brings a remarkable mixture of clinical intuition and research savvy to bear on their problems. He is one of the few scientists who are able and willing to explore the personal, subjective ramifications of his work; he rehumanizes an often too-sterile field and captures the spirit of wonder so essential for true discovery. Phantoms in the Brain is equal parts medical mystery, scientific adventure, and philosophical speculation; Ramachandran's writing is smart, caring, and very, very funny. Whether you're curious about the workings of the brain, interested in alternatives to expensive, high-tech science (much of Ramachandran's research is done with materials found around the home), or simply want a fresh perspective on the nature of human consciousness, you'll find satisfaction with Phantoms in the Brain. --Rob Lightner

30 review for Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petra X

    Ramachandran is not as touchy-feely an author as Oliver Sacks, but the pair of them cover the same ground. They both write about neurological problems, the symptoms expressed as behaviour and anecdotes concerned with the people who suffer from them. Ramachandran's approach is that of a scientist and doctor first, the people he describes are very much patients. Sacks is more 'oh look - this is interesting, maybe even exciting, we (he and the patient) can explore this together'. They both know the Ramachandran is not as touchy-feely an author as Oliver Sacks, but the pair of them cover the same ground. They both write about neurological problems, the symptoms expressed as behaviour and anecdotes concerned with the people who suffer from them. Ramachandran's approach is that of a scientist and doctor first, the people he describes are very much patients. Sacks is more 'oh look - this is interesting, maybe even exciting, we (he and the patient) can explore this together'. They both know their subjects and, both are erudite in many different spheres including literature, history and philosophy which illuminates their writing and although Ramachandran concentrates quite more on the science and both are equally enjoyable and 5 star writers. If you like Sacks you will almost certainly like Ramachandran, but he is not as immediately accessible, so persevere. I look forward to reading more from this author. __________________ "He had the arrogance of the believer, but none of the humility of the deeply religious." Best line so far. Doesn't that line just describe so many people who profess great faith and think that and attendance at their house of worship is quite enough. They don't actually have to live the spirit if not the practice of it as well. It was written about a patient experiencing the religious revelations that are a known component of certain types of epilepsy. This is where the patient is always convinced he has had a revelation which is sometimes ecstatic. Very often they carry this through to the rest of their lives. Sometimes every fit will bring ecstatic religious revelations with it which convinces them that this is not a brain malfunction but that the Divine has come to them. Dostoevesky had this kind of epilepsy and it was possibly behind his writing of The Idiot.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Nomen-Mutatio

    Francis Crick—the "Crick" half of the famous "Watson and Crick" duo that discovered the structure of DNA—coined a term (and used it as the title for his book on the subject) called The Astonishing Hypothesis, which represents the idea that all human cognition and perception—every emotion, belief, existential crisis, perceived sight, sound, smell, etc—is essentially the product of (or equivalent to) complex clusters and pathways of neurons and the synaptic connections of neurotransmitters that bi Francis Crick—the "Crick" half of the famous "Watson and Crick" duo that discovered the structure of DNA—coined a term (and used it as the title for his book on the subject) called The Astonishing Hypothesis, which represents the idea that all human cognition and perception—every emotion, belief, existential crisis, perceived sight, sound, smell, etc—is essentially the product of (or equivalent to) complex clusters and pathways of neurons and the synaptic connections of neurotransmitters that bind them, encased in bone, and in flux like most things. And as Crick once said: "There is no scientific study more vital to man than the study of his own brain. Our entire view of the universe depends on it." And just as matter of historical perspective and novelty: Lucretius, a brilliant Roman poet and Epicurian philosopher (circa 99 BC) proposed the same basic idea that lies at the heart of The Astonishing Hypothesis: "At this stage you must admit that whatever is seen to be sentient is nevertheless composed of atoms that are insentient. The phenomena open to our observation do not contradict this conclusion or conflict with it. Rather they lead us by the hand and compel us to believe that the animate is born, as I maintain, of the insentient." V.S. Ramachandran has run with The Astonishing Hypothesis in ways like no other pop-science writer has—with the possible exception of Oliver Sacks (who writes a wonderful intro to this book, by the way). Let's start with a quote from Rama (as I’ll lovingly call him for the rest of the review) that isn’t from this book but gives some sense of scale and scope to what we’re dealing with here when we pursue the implications of The Astonishing Hypothesis: "The human brain, it has been said, is the most complexly organised structure in the universe and to appreciate this you just have to look at some numbers. The brain is made up of one hundred billion nerve cells or "neurons" which is the basic structural and functional units of the nervous system. Each neuron makes something like a thousand to ten thousand contacts with other neurons and these points of contact are called synapses where exchange of information occurs. And based on this information, someone has calculated that the number of possible permutations and combinations of brain activity, in other words the numbers of brain states, exceeds the number of elementary particles in the known universe." A quick word on Rama’s overall style: He prides himself—like any good pop-science writer—on being able to make technical, complex topics comprehensible to the layperson. He accomplishes this in spades. He doesn’t condescend and he doesn’t dumb anything down, rather he’s just charismatic (you should see him speak in person), well-educated in more fields than merely his specialty (he’ll drop Shakespeare quotations, references to pop culture, sociology, history and cutting edge philosophy all in the same page), and just knows how to turn a pleasing phrase (rich metaphors and lucid prose abound). He really captures the childlike wonder and openness to evidentiary trajectories and discovery that is an ideal in science. He often compares his work to that of his boyhood hero Sherlock Holmes. He’s a brain-detective tracking down the roots of these various strangest of strange phantoms found lurking ‘round the human brain. Basically, this is the purest antidote to dry, technical writing, and it seems to sacrifice none of the scientific rigor in the process. A truly stunning feat that I’ve only seen a few other authors pull off as well (Steven Pinker and Oliver Sacks both come to mind). This particular work of Rama’s focuses on some of the strangest, most fascinating, and philosophically rich territory that’s been eked out in the relatively young but incredibly productive and conceptually-expansive history of cognitive neuroscience. At many points I found my jaw dropping further than I thought possible as each page went by. He covers SO MANY interesting neuro-psychological/-behavioral phenomena that it’s difficult to know what to highlight and what to gloss over—there’s just too much for a GoodReads review. Plus, some should be left for you potential readers to happily find on your own (and what I summarize is extremely brief and surface-level anyway). Phantom Limbs One of the areas Rama is most well-known for is the revolutionary work he’s done with understanding and curing phantom limb pain. Most people know what this phenomenon consists of: a person loses a body part, most often some section of their arm or leg or the whole thing (though he also mentions rarer instances of phantom penises and phantom breasts) and they begin to have very, very vivid sensations that the limb is still there. The problem often times is that they can’t control what this phantom limb does or how it feels. Commonly, people have the painful sensation that their phantom hand is clenched as tight as can be, to cite one of many examples. Rama discovered a simple and ingenious way to sooth and eventually eliminate these pains. He set up a box with a mirror in it that looks like this: When he first tried this out on a person who was in agonizing pain they immediately felt a torrent of relief--the phantom limb sufferer described it as an instantaneous and entirely vivid sensation of being able to finally unclench his excrusiatingly painful clenched phantom fist, immediately. The basic idea is that the brain is tricked into believing that that missing limb is present and when the actual remaining limb moves it gives the equally vivid sensation that the phantom limb is moving in that same willful way. This exercise is done and as time goes on it becomes less and less necessary as the phantom pains become less and less frequent. He cracks a great joke about being the first person to ever amputate a phantom limb. It’s utterly brilliant and a fine humanitarian service that he’s brought to many, many people suffering from what was until his fairly recent discovery such a baffling phenomenon. Capgras Syndrome This one’s really interesting and rife with all kinds of psychological and philosophical implications. Capgras syndrome is when a person begins to think that people they know and recognize perfectly well are imposters. One main example in the chapter "The Unbearable Likeness of Being" is a young man who had a near fatal car accident which put him into a coma for three weeks. All of his normal functions like talking and walking were restored through physical therapy, but one very peculiar feature remained: he insists that his parents are not his parents. Though he acknowledges the perfect physical similarity and is otherwise perfectly rational he simply cannot be convinced that these kindly older people taking care of him are anything but doppelgangers. Fucking weird, right? Well, there are many more cases of this syndrome than this, so it’s not even quite as rare as one would first guess, and Rama gracefully travels through the cognitive neuroscientific netherworld that lies behind this phenomena with some amazing theories guiding him along the way and developing in his wake. If for no other reason, read this book because of what you’ll learn about Capgras syndrome and... Cotard Syndrome In Synecdoche, New York, the most recent film by (and directorial debut of) Charlie Kaufman, the central character’s name is (non-coincidently) Caden Cotard. While he doesn’t have the neurological syndrome he does spend large parts of the film fretting about death (it’s a wonderful film, don’t let this description fool you). Actual people with Cotard’s syndrome are either completely convinced that they are already dead or are decaying. They often swear that they can smell their own rotting flesh, etc. Before we jump to the conclusion that these people are just wrist-slitting goth kids prone to hyperbole or just crazy, we need to take the brain’s eye view with Rama as our guide. And a note about the "just crazy" remark I just made: He stresses throughout this book that it is a profound mistake to send the patients he describes straight to the psychiatrist or the loony bin. And he’s always right to do this. There is some time spent arguing against old paradigms of psychology and psychiatry and cultural theory and sociology—even though he does give Freud credit where credit is due and shows us how Freud had seeds of wisdom, but that the seeds need to be fostered by all of the new knowledge and innovation and (most importantly) positive results brought about by the paradigm-shift of cognitive neuroscience when it comes to treating people with these strangest of mental states and behaviors. Alright, there are so many other major points of interest I could go into but I’m calling it quits for now. A short list of other great topics: —Phantom pregnancies —People literally laughing themselves to death —The ins and outs of the placebo effect —Mirror neurons and their relationship to empathy —Blind sight (an incredible phenomenon, look it up) —The pros and cons of evolutionary psychology —People who completely neglect one entire side of their body and do not—and cannot—realize it —The neurological underpinnings of religious revelations and ecstasies —And more! One last word on... Consciousness I tend to approach all of neuroscience with the eyes of a philosopher—meaning, I don’t really have an aptitude for the finer, more technical details, and that there’s basically a constant running commentary in the back of my mind (at least) when I approach the brain which is pondering the ever-increasing philosophical discourse about the nature of consciousness itself. This also easily lends itself to more "existential" thoughts about the obvious which can be more or less boiled down to this: if a person’s conscious experience is the brain or is a product of the brain (the distinctions here will cause most of your eyes to glaze over, so I’ll be be silent on that for now) then its dissolution is our dissolution. In other words, this kind of stuff practically urges a person to consider the inevitability of mortality to some degree or another. While Rama bypasses all extended musings on the meaning of life and death, he does take a mighty swing at the philosophical debates about consciousness in the final chapter. He’s quite philosophically astute for a neuroscientist with no formal philosophical education. He’s also collaborated with fellow UC-San Diego professor (of philosophy) Patricia Churchland which—for fans of philosophy and science—is basically a dream team. Patricia and her husband Paul are basically the forebearers of a subfield of study called neurophilosophy, which I see as the wave of the future and one of the only hopes for academic philosophy to remain (or become, depending on your station in life) relevant and exciting, and also as a useful clarifying tool for cognitive neuroscience and perhaps science and all the other seriously probing disciplines generally. I'll continue to urge many people to read this book. It’s maximally eye-opening, entertaining and thought provoking.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    I think this was a good book to read after reading Susan Sontag. While Sontag says that the more we attribute a disease to our mind and to our attitudes the more it betrays our ignorance, Ramachandran tries to answer questions like "Can your mental attitude really help cure asthma and cancer?" - For example, VSR is courageous enough to venture into esoteric areas such as mind-body connection and divine visions and sound them out with the backing of science and a curious imagination. The Victorian I think this was a good book to read after reading Susan Sontag. While Sontag says that the more we attribute a disease to our mind and to our attitudes the more it betrays our ignorance, Ramachandran tries to answer questions like "Can your mental attitude really help cure asthma and cancer?" - For example, VSR is courageous enough to venture into esoteric areas such as mind-body connection and divine visions and sound them out with the backing of science and a curious imagination. The Victorian attitude that VSR brings to these explorations make the book a pleasure to read and you too can play Sherlock with the neuroscientist as he goes about snooping in the recesses of the mind in each of the cases. The most basic questions about the human mind are still mysteries to us - How do we recognize faces? Why do we cry? Why do we laugh? Why do we dream? Why do we enjoy music and art? and the really big question: What is consciousness? And more generally, how does the activity of tiny wisps of protoplasm in the brain lead to conscious experience? - These are the questions that VSR tries to address as he stitches together an elaborate network of clinical case studies into a coherent tapestry. He does not claim to have all the answers but shows the daring to face up to these toughest of questions without the grabs of a philosopher or a mystic but with the probing flashlight of a scientist. And that is why both his books are so captivating. He opens the book with an overview about how our brain works. After a few pages of diagrams and explanations about those weird Latin names, he gets to one of the important points that he wants to address through all these wandering with patients and obscure questions - Modularity Vs Holism - What is the nature of our brain's workings? Is it modular with separate areas for separate functions or is fundamentally holistic with all the functions arising from an intricate interaction of all regions? Consider the following examples: Many stroke victims are paralyzed on the right or left side of their bodies, depending on where the brain injury occurs. Voluntary movements on the opposite side are permanently gone. And yet when such a patient yawns, he stretches out both arms spontaneously. Much to his amazement, his paralyzed arm suddenly springs to life! It does so because a different brain pathway controls the arm movement during the yawn— a pathway closely linked to the respiratory centers in the brain stem. Or consider the unfortunate story of a patient known as H.M., who might as well have risen straight out of Memento: H.M. suffered from a form of epilepsy and his doctors decided to remove his 'hippocampus', a structure that controls the laying down of new memories. We only know this because after the surgery, H.M. could no longer form new memories, yet he could recall everything that happened before the operation. After this lengthy introduction, the book finally takes us to the deep end - the clinical cases and their implications: The Phantom Limb To understand Ramachandran's approach to this strange malady, you have to get your mind around something called the Penfield homunculus - A map of the entire body surface exists in the brain like a miniature body drawn on the brain surface. Some parts like lips and hands are overrepresented and the locations of the different body parts is not as it is in actual anatomy. Literally a miniature map of your body in your brain. Perform a google search for more. Ramachandran while experimenting on patients with phantom limbs soon found that the penfield map for their missing arm seems to be on their face now. So now if he touches the patient's face, the patient feels the touch on his non-existing arm! Apparently, the part of the map corresponding to face in the brain is very close to the part corresponding to the arm and following the surgical removal, the 'face map neurons' has invaded the part reserved for the arm and is now making the brain believe that sensations are coming from that arm when the face is touched. Stimulated by all these spurious signals, Tom's brain literally hallucinates his arm. He gives a number of examples involving phantom feet and arms and breasts and even sexual organs. One patient, in his description, stood up, letting her stumps drop straight down on both sides. "But when I talk," she said, "my phantoms gesticulate. In fact, they're moving now as I speak." - This reminded me so powerfully of Munnabhai and his chemical 'lochas' talking of Gandhi. One of the main problems with patients is paralyzed phantom limbs that are in weird positions that cause pain. To address this, VSR postulates that the phantom limb experience might derive from this explanation: Imagine that your brain area that gives motor commands do not know that the arm is no longer there. So it sends a command, "move". Each time the motor command center sends signals to the missing arm, information about the commands is also sent to the parietal lobe which houses the penfield map containing our body image. In the case of an actual arm there is another source of information - the impulses from the joints, ligaments and muscle spindles of that arm. These impulses let the brain know that it is actually moving. The phantom arm of course lacks these tissues and their signals Now imagine that the actual limb was paralyzed before amputation. Every time the brain sends a signal to move, all the responses from the arm and the visual response gives feedback that "nope, the arm is not moving." This process repeats till, eventually the brain learns that the arm does not move and a kind of "learned paralysis" is stamped onto the brain's circuitry and when the arm is later amputated, the person is stuck with that revised body image: a paralyzed phantom. So in a burst of intuitive insight or creative genius, VSR wonders if he can give feedback to the brain visually that the arm IS moving, then maybe it will "unlearn" this paralysis - visual feedback telling him that his arm is moving again while his muscles are telling him the arm is not there? The only way his beleaguered brain could deal with this bizarre sensory conflict was to say, "To hell with it, there is no arm!" He does it with his famous mirror box contraption that does exactly that thus performing what he calls the first successful "amputation" of a phantom limb! BlindSight VSR gives a few clinical examples of patients who are blind in all conventional sense but can still navigate rooms an around objects and can even put envelopes through slits even when they can't see the slits or its orientation. to explain this strange almost extra-sensory perception, we need to understand more about how we see and how we process what we see: What happens when you look at any object? The light from the object reflects back to your eye, activating corresponding optic impulses in the receptors in your retina. These impulses then travel through the optic nerve and then they take tow pathways - one called 'old' and a second, called 'new'. The "older" pathway goes eventually to higher areas in your brain. The "newer" pathway, on the other hand, travels from through a sort of 'relay station' en route to the primary visual cortex. From there, visual information is transmitted to the thirty or so other visual areas for further processing. The "new" pathway after going to the visual cortex diverges again into two more pathways —a "how" pathway in the parietal lobes that is concerned with grasping, navigation and other spatial functions, and the second, "what" pathway in the temporal lobes concerned with recognizing objects. Why do we have an old pathway and a new pathway? VSR postulates that maybe the older pathway has been preserved as a sort of early warning system or a quick response system. When time is too short to not have the luxury of processing information etc, this pathway allows you to quickly get out of the way of anything that looks vaguely threatening - hard-coded threats and symbols etc. For example, if a large looming object comes at me from the left, this older pathway tells me where the object is, enabling me to swivel my eyeballs and turn my head and body to look at it. This pathway only gives you a sense that 'something' is there. At this stage you have to deploy the 'newer' system to determine what the object is, for only then can you decide how to respond to it. Damage to this second pathway, particularly in the primary visual cortex, leads to blindness in the conventional sense. So, coming back to patients with BlindSight, the paradox is resolved when you consider the division of labor between the two visual pathways that we considered earlier. In particular, even though these patient might have lost his primary visual cortex, rendering him blind, their primitive "orienting" pathway was sometimes still intact, mediating BlindSight, allowing them to react to objects that they cannot see and with no conscious acknowledgement that they are aware of these objects. It becomes an unconscious reflex reaction for them. They have BlindSight and can see without seeing. Imagination and Reality Ramachandran explores the difference between imagining an object and seeing one. Are the same parts of your brain active when you imagine an object, say, a cat, as when you look at it actually sitting in front of you? He first takes us through a variety of intriguing experiments that we can perform on ourselves to play with our visual 'blind spot' I am reproducing one here but for more off these fun games, go here. [image error] Blind spot demonstration: Shut your right eye and look at the black dot on the right with your left eye. From about one and a half feet away, move the screen slowly toward you. At a critical distance the circular hatched disk on the left will fall entirely on your blind spot and disappear completely. Notice that when the disk disappears you don't see a dark void or hole in its place. The region is seen as being covered with the same light gray color as the background. This phenomenon is loosely referred to as "filling in." If you did go to the link and perform the tests, you have now experienced what VSR calls "Perceptual Filling In" which is very different from just imagining the continuities in those lines etc. When you fill in your blind spot with a carpet design, it is carried out by visual neurons. Their decisions, once made, are irreversible. If you got this much, let's return to the distinction between seeing a cat and imagining a cat. When we see a cat, its shape, color, texture and other visible attributes will impinge upon our retina and travel through to the primary visual cortex, all the information combining to tell us that this is a cat. Now think of what's going on in your brain when you imagine a cat. There's good evidence to suggest that we are actually running our visual machinery in reverse! Our memories of all cats and of this particular cat flow from top to bottom—from higher regions to the primary visual cortex—and the combined activities of all these areas lead to the perception of an imaginary cat by the mind's eye. Indeed, the activity in the primary visual cortex may be almost as strong as if you really did see a cat, but in fact the cat is not there. Why don't you see a cat in the chair when you simply think of one? The reason is similar to what we explored in the case of the Phantom Limbs - The actual signals from your retina informs your higher visual centers that there is no cat image hitting the retina - thereby vetoing the activity evoked by top−down imagery. But if these early visual pathways are damaged, this baseline signal is removed and so you hallucinate - vividly! This then forms that elusive interface between vision and imagination. He talks about the Charles Bonnet syndrome to illustrate this where the brain does not receive confirming visual stimuli and is free simply to make up its own reality. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat In Ramachandran's own version of the story that Oliver Sachs made immortal, we meet Arthur who suffers from a condition called The Capgras' delusion: As Arthur said, "That man looks identical to my father but he really isn't my father. That woman who claims to be my mother? She's lying. She looks just like my mom but it isn't her." Remember the 'what' pathway we talked of earlier? This pathway connects to the 'temporal lobes' which contains the regions that specialize in face and object recognition. In a normal brain, once the 'what' pathway conveys the visual signals to these areas, these face recognition areas (found on both sides of the brain) relay information to the 'limbic system', which then helps generate emotional responses to particular faces. What if Arthur's case arise from a disconnect from these two functions of 'recognition' and 'emotional response'? He can recognize his parents' faces but feels no emotional response as the limbic system is damaged in some way? What if he copes with this lack of emotional response by telling himself that they can't really be his parents? Ramachandran then proceeds to test and confirm this outlandish theory using GSR which is used extensively in Blink by Gladwell too. The God Delusion Ramachandran in this scintillating chapter lays into the god hypothesis with all the innocent charm of an avenging angel. He argues that the limbic system, especially the left temporal lobe is somehow involved in religious experience. Every medical student, he says, is taught that patients with epileptic seizures originating in this part of the brain can have intense, spiritual experiences during the seizures. Patients may then have deeply moving spiritual experiences, including a feeling of divine presence and the sense that they are in direct communion with God. Everything around them is imbued with cosmic significance. They may say, "I finally understand what it's all about. This is the moment I've been waiting for all my life. Suddenly it all makes sense." Or, "Finally I have insight into the true nature of the cosmos." Ramachandran finds it ironic that this sense of enlightenment, this absolute conviction that Truth is revealed at last, should derive from limbic structures concerned with emotions rather than from the thinking, rational parts of the brain that take so much pride in their ability to discern truth and falsehood. The Origin of Smileys This "false alarm theory" is the explanation that Ramachandran puts forth as the fundamental basis for humour. He gives the example of people who have uncontrollable fits of laughter when they have lesions in certain part s of the limbic system. Is it not strange, he asks, that the same system that controls our flight or fight response also governs our laughter mechanism? This is because laughter is a form of social signaling that lets us tell others that a potentially dangerous situation is really harmless or 'silly'. It is contagious as the more people convey this "all right" message, better it is for the society - they will waste less effort on these false alarms unnecessarily. Mind-Body Connection There was once a woman who was pregnant. She was very excited and happy. FInally after nine months, she started experiencing contractions and rushed to the doctor for delivery. The doctor examined her and got ready for the delivery procedure. He was an experienced doctor and he sensed something was wrong though. he examined her once more and some signs like a down tuned belly button told him that this might be a case of Phantom Pregnancy. He told her he will anesthetic her for delivery and once she woke up informed her that she had miscarried. She was dejected and went home. Several days later she came rushing back. She had a pregnant belly gain and all the other accompaniments of pregnancy. She plopped down on the examining chair and told the doctor - "You forgot to deliver the twin!" Pseudocyesis or false pregnancy is a condition in which some women who desperately want to be pregnant develop all the signs and symptoms of true pregnancy. Their abdomens swell to enormous proportions, their nipples become pigmented, as happens in pregnant women. They stop menstruating, lactate, have morning sickness and sense fetal movements. Everything seems normal except for one thing: There is no baby. Ramachandran treated phantom pregnancy as a potential example of the kind of mind-body connection he had been looking for. He meditates, If the human mind can conjure up something as complex as pregnancy, what else can the brain do to or for the body? What are the limits to mind−body interactions and what pathways mediate these strange phenomena? And assures us that, contrary to what many of my colleagues believe, the message preached by physicians like Deepak Chopra and Andrew Weil is not just New Age psychobabble. It contains important insights into the human organism— ones that deserve serious scientific scrutiny. Phantoms in the Brain is a wonderful book. It explores some deep and strange ideas and tells us that it is only through exploring questions such as these that we can begin to approach the greatest scientific and philosophical riddle of all - the nature of the self. Freudian Analysis on Ramachandran Ramachandran spends a lot of time either supporting or critiquing Freud and I am having to struggle hard to resist the temptation of conducting a Freudian analysis on him. Even though I will not engage in it here, I will leave you with a clue why: It is about the number of times he refers to the two primary sexual organs in the book. One is referred to almost constantly (in addition to his numerous sexual innuendos) and the other is mentioned absolutely never. Disclaimer In many parts my explanations are simplistic versions of the ones presented in the book. I removed most of the scientific terms and omitted a lot of the examples and have concentrated on concepts that I found more interesting. If your interest was evoked by this short summary, I would urge you to pick up the book and read it. I would also add a qualifier that if you have read The Tell-Tale Brain, a lot of this book will seem very repetitive with almost word for word similarities between the two, and contains almost nothing which has not been covered in The Tell-Tale brain, which is the better work as it is more developed and coherent and just more fun to read for the general reader.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marley

    HOLY CRAP. This is the best book about neuroscience and cog sci for a popular audience ever written by someone not named Oliver Sacks. Ramachandran is, as one of the cover reviews says, profoundly sane, and has a real sense of what you can get from the scientific method and what you can't, and really understands the way questions that used to be philosophical are inching into the realm of the empirical. He also is sometimes hilarious, really up on the other great popular scientific thinkers out th HOLY CRAP. This is the best book about neuroscience and cog sci for a popular audience ever written by someone not named Oliver Sacks. Ramachandran is, as one of the cover reviews says, profoundly sane, and has a real sense of what you can get from the scientific method and what you can't, and really understands the way questions that used to be philosophical are inching into the realm of the empirical. He also is sometimes hilarious, really up on the other great popular scientific thinkers out there right now, and has examples and experiments that will completely blow your mind, "Man who mistook his wife for a hat"-style and THEN some. Then, once it's blown, he will spend a great deal of time fitting it into the context of just what that means about our understanding of the large-scale structure of the brain right now. SO EDUCATIONAL, SO FASCINATING, SO GOOD.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    Few years back I read Oliver Sacks’ The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales and was amazed by the cases presented. This book is even more astounding; human brain is such a mystery even today. I knew about amputees’ phantom limbs but not to this extent. And these are not the only cases: one woman did not recognize her arm, saying it’s his brother’s; others completely lost perception of their left part of the body and surroundings. Another, after a car accident, did not re Few years back I read Oliver Sacks’ The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales and was amazed by the cases presented. This book is even more astounding; human brain is such a mystery even today. I knew about amputees’ phantom limbs but not to this extent. And these are not the only cases: one woman did not recognize her arm, saying it’s his brother’s; others completely lost perception of their left part of the body and surroundings. Another, after a car accident, did not recognize his parents, saying they look alike but they are imposters; and they are not the only ones. All these strange behaviors because of minor or not so minor damage to the brain. There are also quite a few experiments done to understand how brain works and how it remaps the body, like this one which I saw some time ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxwn1... Both fascinating and frightening in the same time; human body is such a fragile organism. You never know what may happen…

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amir Tesla

    This book is a direct flight into to the Limbo ...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ruchita

    This is a book about psychology, neuroscience, all the good stuff. Ramachandran is delightfully witty and approaches the big and small questions of psychology and neuroscience with curiosity and equal doses of scepticism and speculation alike. One of the truly good things about Phantoms in the Brain is that it is written with humility and humour. Ramachandran manages to expound whilst being hilarious and without 'dumbing down', so to speak. The book isn't an overtly serious-nature thesis so it f This is a book about psychology, neuroscience, all the good stuff. Ramachandran is delightfully witty and approaches the big and small questions of psychology and neuroscience with curiosity and equal doses of scepticism and speculation alike. One of the truly good things about Phantoms in the Brain is that it is written with humility and humour. Ramachandran manages to expound whilst being hilarious and without 'dumbing down', so to speak. The book isn't an overtly serious-nature thesis so it follows a rather non-stuffy style, which is refreshing. It mainly consists of anecdotes and cases culled from wide-ranging medical literature, so it serves as a ground for inquiry into the nature, symptoms, effects and treatments of the various psychological anomalies. The book doesn't shy away from supporting the cases with evidence and providing the necessary scientific context and explanation for the problems at hand. I think that's the most crucial thing for any 'popular science' book. Science shouldn't be downplayed or given the back seat at the cost of 'making it easy.' A popular science book fails if it doesn't bring out the science bit in. Because, you know, it popular science after all. What I also liked was that every chapter begins with quotes taken from sources as wide as the books of Sherlock Holmes, the Vedas and Shakespeare. That adds a nice touch. But I think the most important thing I took away (when I read this at 16) was the spirit of scientific enquiry and sense of wonder that this book carries with it. At the heart of it, it's all about trying to understand Life, the Universe, and Everything. And that sense of wonder - that joy of scientific discovery - is contagious. I love science.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jigar Brahmbhatt

    I begin to like Dr. Ramachandran. Such a remarkable, intelligent, and humble man, someone who would make a nice companion during long campfires. The phantom limbs this book famously talks about is well-known now. But it talks about much more than that. The brain is after all a complex thing. We hardly understand how it ticks and many things that pass on as bogus, like clairvoyance, are not completely unprovable given the limitations of brain study. That Ramachandran is willing to stray into the I begin to like Dr. Ramachandran. Such a remarkable, intelligent, and humble man, someone who would make a nice companion during long campfires. The phantom limbs this book famously talks about is well-known now. But it talks about much more than that. The brain is after all a complex thing. We hardly understand how it ticks and many things that pass on as bogus, like clairvoyance, are not completely unprovable given the limitations of brain study. That Ramachandran is willing to stray into the tall claims made by mystics is a wonder and a joy because most of the self-serious scientists don't like to get their hands dirty. The book informs us that phantom limbs occur because the brain's "body image" - the mapping of each body part in the brain - gets altered due to shock or some other reason. This is a plausible theory. Consider a man who has an amputated leg and whenever he reaches an orgasm he feels it in his phantom leg and not in the penis. The reason is not, as Frued suggested years ago while explaining foot fetish, that the feet resemble the phallus. But because the sensors for the leg and the penis are quite close in the "body image". This is interesting. Consider also that in female brains the sensors for earlobe and nipples are quite close - the rest is elementary. But this "body image" may get altered, resulting in messed up, baffling signals, the kind patients with phantom limbs feel. In fact, normal people can also feel something like it. Take this experiment: Ask two of your friends to join you. Call them A and B. Sit in a chair. Ask A to sit in front of you in another chair. Blindfold your eyes. Now ask B to take your hand and periodically tickle A's nose and at the same time tickle your nose with another hand. Simple. But after some 30 to 40 seconds you will feel that A's nose is your nose, the one being tickled by your hand, and not the one on your body. This "nose outside my body" experience happens because the "body image" gets slightly altered because of the experiment. The fact of the matter is as Dr. Ramachandran explains: "Your body image, despite all its appearance of durability is an entirely transitory internal construct that can be profoundly modified with a few simple tricks. It is merely a shell you have temporarily created for successfully passing your genes to your offspring." Along the way he sheds light on a new discovery about how we perceive the world. A simple act of seeing is distributed among multiple visual areas and division of labor among the two - the "how" and "what" - pathways. A small imbalance in these pathways can cause disastrous effects. A real case study tells about a woman with such a deformity who could see perfectly well but could never sense motion. This meant this she could never cross a road because she could not see continuous movement, only static snapshots. A simple event of filling coffee was always troublesome because the snapshots won't tell her when her cup was about to spill. It tells us that we don't understand vision completely. Dr. Ramachandran writes: "If I toss a red ball at you, several far-flung visual areas in your brains are activated simultaneously, but what you see is a single unified picture of the ball. Does this unification come about because there is a later place in the brain where all this information is put together - what the philosopher Dan Dennett calls a Cartesian Theater? Or are there connections between these areas so that their simultaneous activation leads directly to a sort of synchronized firing pattern that in turn creates perpetual unity? This question - the so-called binding problem, is one of the many unresolved riddles in neuroscience." Stroke patients sometimes go into denial or repress the fact of the paralysis and although these baffling acts confuse doctors, some brave neurologists actually find parallels of these behavior with Freudian concepts like "repression", "denial", "reaction formation" and the like. It is an opportunity for them to test Freud's theories because although we all display such behavior in our day to day life, in these unfortunate patients the intensity is tenfold, giving enough material to hold an experiment. Even though Freud bashing is a popular intellectual pastime, Ramachandran believes that he had some valuable insights up his sleeve about our psychological defenses. Many strange sightings of ghosts, angels, UFOs may be due to ocular pathology, a malfunction called Charles Bonnet syndrome. The pleasure of this book arises from Dr. Ramachandran's enthusiastic writing style, presenting one case study after another, giving us proper details that lead to the "wow" moment - the discovery of something new about the brain, and along the way he makes us feel like Sherlock Holmes (a figure that significantly inspired him to join medicine). During the reading of the book I was mostly agile and curious to know what would come next. Not many popular science books are like that. Though some present excellent ideas, they hamper the reading experience by either being too verbose/dull or too technical. We learn from this book that a lot of what we know about the curious sounding functions of the brain is by studying patients with deformities or malfunction, a method used by psychoanalysts in the past, but today's neurologists rely on sophisticated observations and not educated guesses. What does all the case studies tell us? That most of the brain processes run by comparisons and not by absolute values. You never know what you may end up finding next. I don't know about others, but I take comfort in that idea. That this reality, my reality, the way I perceive it, the things that I understand, the things that I don't, everything has my brain at its center. It makes me who I am. I am not speaking as an Idealist, but a lot of what goes around in life is constantly scanned by my brain. I cannot deny its influence. The brain is powerful enough to generate a religious experience. Even intense religious experiences are traced to the limbic system, but Dr. Ramachandran is humble enough to state that the existence of God cannot be denied on empirical grounds. In the later chapters he dwells on pseudocyesis - a condition in which a woman experiences all the signs of pregnancy, swollen belly, lactating breasts and the like, but there is one thing missing: the baby! The fake pregnancy is the result of a delusion. How f*ed-up is that! Listen to this now: a rare few men who show extreme sympathy towards their pregnant wives start showing signs of pregnancy. They even start lactating. People, lets all bow down to the power of the mind! Reading this book, I have secretly started believing that if it can make such improbable things true, if only one could train it in the right direction and draw amazing fruits from it (the way new age mystics claim all the time). It helps me to know that something intriguing may happen tomorrow that today I find impossible. It would not be a miracle. It would just be a new thing I would learn about myself, about my mental abilities. We may not end up knowing everything about the brain, because it looks like an infinite machine, but there is comfort in the fact that there is a lot more to learn. It will be exciting. It will keep us busy.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stela

    This is the second book about neuro-psychology I've read and it has been an entirely new experience. "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" was (and reflected in the title as such) mainly amusing. On the other hand, "Phantoms in the Brain" is (as, again, suggested by the title) quite disturbing. The first focused on weird cases per se, collecting stories only because they were odd, hence unique. The second looks at the same kind of stories as unexpected ways to understand and generalize the in This is the second book about neuro-psychology I've read and it has been an entirely new experience. "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" was (and reflected in the title as such) mainly amusing. On the other hand, "Phantoms in the Brain" is (as, again, suggested by the title) quite disturbing. The first focused on weird cases per se, collecting stories only because they were odd, hence unique. The second looks at the same kind of stories as unexpected ways to understand and generalize the inner workings of the brain. And the message is unsettling, even if not entirely surprising. It's one thing to presume that sometimes appearances are tricky and a totally different one to learn that you can never totally rely on your senses or your judgment, because almost everything can be simulated by your brain as proved by the symptoms patients develop after a blow, a stroke, a tumor or any other damage, and sometimes even without any visible damage. How can be explained, for example, the pain someone feels in an amputated limb? Maybe by the hypothesis that "...pain is an opinion on the organism's state of health rather than a mere reflexive response to an injury." There are many syndromes of the same kind that lead to the same uncomfortable conclusion: that the ownership of our body is an illusion: - Charles Bonnet syndrome: a damage in the visual pathway causes a special sort of blindness - reality is replaced by some vivid visual hallucinations; - Capgras' syndrome - the patient, otherwise mentally lucid comes to regard his close relatives as impostors; - Cotard's syndrome - the patient claims that he is dead, that his flesh smells rotten and that worms crawl over his skin; - Fregoli's syndrome - the patient keeps seeing the same person everywhere (here is a possible explanation for racism - one person generated the race hate after an unpleasant episode). Whether these syndromes could be explained by some damages in the brain, there are other examples with not so evident answers: the idiot-savant syndrome - persons whose IQ are very low but have islands of astonishing talent; or the fact that when stimulating the temporal lobes you can experience God. Through conscious beings the universe has generated self-awareness. This can be no trivial detail, no minor by-product of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here. Are we? I don't think brain science alone, despite all its triumphs, will ever answer that question. But that we can ask the question at all is, to me, the most puzzling aspect of our existence. In other words, we know that self-awareness is our greatest gift. The question is: is it not also our greatest punishment?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ioannis Savvas

    Στο «Φαντάσματα στον εγκέφαλο – Ερευνώντας τα μυστήρια του νου» οι V. S. Ramachandran και Sandra Blakeslee παρουσιάζουν κλινικά περιστατικά νευρολογικών/ψυχιατρικών διαταραχών και αναλύουν τα συμπτώματα με βάση συγκεκριμένες αλλοιώσεις του εγκεφάλου. Τα περιστατικά και τα σύνδρομα περιγράφονται με τέτοιο τρόπο που μπορεί οποιοσδήποτε να τα διαβάσει και να απολαύσει με μεγάλη ευκολία. Το ταξίδι στον εγκέφαλο, το πιο μυστηριώδες δημιούργημα στο γνωστό σύμπαν, είναι συναρπαστικό και αναπάντεχο: σε Στο «Φαντάσματα στον εγκέφαλο – Ερευνώντας τα μυστήρια του νου» οι V. S. Ramachandran και Sandra Blakeslee παρουσιάζουν κλινικά περιστατικά νευρολογικών/ψυχιατρικών διαταραχών και αναλύουν τα συμπτώματα με βάση συγκεκριμένες αλλοιώσεις του εγκεφάλου. Τα περιστατικά και τα σύνδρομα περιγράφονται με τέτοιο τρόπο που μπορεί οποιοσδήποτε να τα διαβάσει και να απολαύσει με μεγάλη ευκολία. Το ταξίδι στον εγκέφαλο, το πιο μυστηριώδες δημιούργημα στο γνωστό σύμπαν, είναι συναρπαστικό και αναπάντεχο: σε κάθε στάση ένα συγκλονιστικό μυστικό αποκαλύπτεται και μάς προσγειώνει ανώμαλα. Είμαστε, αλήθεια, κύριοι του εαυτού μας; Τι είναι ο εαυτός μας; Ελέγχουμε τη βούλησή μας; Τι είναι τα «ζόμπι» στο εγκέφαλό μας; Είναι πραγματικός ο κόσμος που αντιλαμβανόμαστε; Μήπως ζούμε σε ένα κατασκεύασμα του εγκεφάλου μας, σε μια ψευδαίσθηση; Τι είναι η συνείδηση; Μπορεί ένας άνθρωπος να πεθάνει από τα γέλια; Μπορούν οι άντρες να έχουν ψευδοκύηση; Πώς είναι δυνατόν ένας άνθρωπος να μην αναγνωρίζει το σώμα του; Το «Φαντάσματα στον εγκέφαλο» είναι μια θαυμάσια περιπέτεια στον ανεξερεύνητο ακόμη κόσμο του εγκεφάλου. Είναι ένας ύμνος στις νευροεπιστήμες. Αξιοσημείωτο είναι επίσης ότι ο Ramachandran, ένας γεννημένος Ινδός και γαλουχημένος με την ανατολική φιλοσοφία και ιατρική, βάζει τα πράγματα στη σωστή βάση: είναι πολύ πιθανό να υπάρχουν κρυμμένες αλήθειες στις ανατολικές φιλοσοφίες, ωστόσο αν αυτές δεν υποστούν τη βάσανο της δυτικής επιστημονικής σκέψης και μεθοδολογίας, δεν αποκτούν κύρος και ισχύ.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Muthuvel

    Such a shame I didn't get to know about this humbling scientist and his works until yesterday where I got a chance to attend his lecture on "Anomalies on Human Brain".

  12. 5 out of 5

    Karthick

    THANK GOD "My both hemispheres work while typing these".. :) Hurray! what a book. I love all the brain stuffs, especially all the weird (quite lol) cases of patients! how can a person feel that one half of his body is not present or feels like someone's (say his friends/brother...) how can a person feels pain in his left hand and yelling "god, its hurts like hell"?? actually his left hand is amputated, just a phantom hand) why a person feels orgasm in his left leg while having sex with his girl frie THANK GOD "My both hemispheres work while typing these".. :) Hurray! what a book. I love all the brain stuffs, especially all the weird (quite lol) cases of patients! how can a person feel that one half of his body is not present or feels like someone's (say his friends/brother...) how can a person feels pain in his left hand and yelling "god, its hurts like hell"?? actually his left hand is amputated, just a phantom hand) why a person feels orgasm in his left leg while having sex with his girl friend? (again its a phantom leg, not his penis) God must be crazy for creating the ingenious species called "Homo Sapiens". we all are CRAZY!! A MUST READ FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVES TO KNOW AT LEAST HOW OUR BRAIN WORKS??..

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tanja Berg

    A fascinating book about the workings of the brain and the illusion of self. Wonderful!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Solera

    This book ended up on my reading list for several reasons, but I didn't decide to really get into it until I noticed that Oliver Sacks had written the foreword. Having read a few of his books, I decided to give Dr. Ramachandran's look into the peculiar world of outlier psychology a shot. The book is a fascinating read. It talks about the brain's elusive behavior and how it is possible that so many bizarre cases of abnormal psychology exist. Many cases that we would describe as crazy, he breaks do This book ended up on my reading list for several reasons, but I didn't decide to really get into it until I noticed that Oliver Sacks had written the foreword. Having read a few of his books, I decided to give Dr. Ramachandran's look into the peculiar world of outlier psychology a shot. The book is a fascinating read. It talks about the brain's elusive behavior and how it is possible that so many bizarre cases of abnormal psychology exist. Many cases that we would describe as crazy, he breaks down into meticulous detail, explaining how different parts of the brain interact with each other to yield odd and otherwise inexplicable behavior. We've all heard of phantom pains, or the phenomenon experienced by amputees where they can still feel their now-gone limb, often feeling pain or other sensations. Logic would dictate that given the absolute lack of skin, flesh, or nerve endings, that this would be impossible. And yet, we can't objectively say that people are wrong if they legitimately feel something. So what can anyone do about this and how do we explain its existence? Dr. Ramachandran attempts to answer these and many other questions in the course of this book. We read about blind spots in the eye and how our brain "fills" them in; about otherwise normal people who believe their parents are impostors who look identical to their real parents; about women who show every single sign of pregnancy except the baby and other remarkable psychological anomalies. Some of these cases are incredibly interesting because they discuss the tight relationship between sight and experience. One woman who has suffered a brain injury is given an envelope and asked to insert it into a slot. Given her condition, she is unable to do so. But when placed near the slot, she automatically aligns it perfectly. He discusses optical illusions that make it seem like one circle is larger than the others, when they're actually the same size. In a controlled experiment, when asked to pick up any of the circles, participants would reach out and a camera would measure how wide their fingers separated. Curiously, they were always the same distance, regardless of which circle they had chosen. So while the brain tells them that they are different sizes, the body seems to "know" differently. Ramachandran calls this, and other cases, an example of a "zombie" in the brain, acting on our behalf without our conscious input. So the book's most intriguing aspect isn't necessarily its encyclopaedic selection of strange cases. I'd give that prize to the philosophical undertones that accompany each examination. These musings range from discussions on free will (the brain seems to do a lot of thinking and acting on its own), to pondering the nature of self (questioning the idea of the "ghost in the machine" and whether we should even be talking about souls anymore). Towards the end, I did get a bit lost, mostly in his discussions of qualia. But given that the book isn't very long (shy of 300 pages), that didn't sour my enjoyment.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Moriartyandherbooks

    Very interesting, informative, and easy to follow along, even with all the medical jargon! I will say though the last chapter didn't seem to flow as easy in this regard as the rest of the book did, but I won't hold it against the author haha. I would definitely recommend this book to those interested in the topic!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ceyda

    Vaka'lardan oluşan sinirbilime üzerine bir kitap. Olivar Sacks'in "Karısını Şapka Sanan Adam" kitabına oldukça benziyor. Fakat onun kadar başarılı olamamış.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mohamed al-Jamri

    My notes while reading the book: The book doesn't give you ready theories, but takes you through the process of discovery. Raises many questions on how the brain works. Very interesting topics. He uses many experiments to probe and investigate. He's influenced by Thomas Kuhn and uses his terminology very often. Preface by Oliver Sacks V. S. Ramachandran. Phantom limb. Other topics too that show how our brain works in what Rama calls "experimental epistemology". The books he liked when he was young. Pr My notes while reading the book: The book doesn't give you ready theories, but takes you through the process of discovery. Raises many questions on how the brain works. Very interesting topics. He uses many experiments to probe and investigate. He's influenced by Thomas Kuhn and uses his terminology very often. Preface by Oliver Sacks V. S. Ramachandran. Phantom limb. Other topics too that show how our brain works in what Rama calls "experimental epistemology". The books he liked when he was young. Praises the book. Preface by Rama Galileo, Darwin, Huxley, Faraday, Humphrey Davey and others all wrote popular science books. Francis Crick influenced by Shrodinger's book What is life. Paul Dicrove (or Decroff), The Microbe Hunters was an influential popular science book as well. Author influenced by books of George Gammo, Luis Thomas and Peter Medower. Also Oliver Sacks, Steven J. Gould, Carl Sagan, Dan Dannet, Richard Gregory, Richard Dawkins, Paul Davies, Steven Pinker and Colin Blakemore. Story of Galileo. Discovery of H. pylori (by Marshall). He was just a medical resident and didn't need any sophisticated equipments. Discoveries are just under our noses waiting for us to discover them. Speculation and imagination is a very important process as a starting point for discoveries in science. This productive even when the speculations are wrong. Many open questions in neurology Chapter 1: The Phantom within Many inspirational quotes. Religious experiences and temportal lobe epilepsy. Phantom limbs. Large blind spot in vision, with cartoons appearing. Anasgnosia patient who doesn't identify her paralyzed arm as her. Patient who kept laughing all day until he died. Patient after an accident who though his parents were duplicate imposters. All these are due damage in a certain part of brain. Neuroscience is in the stage of Faraday and didn't develop yet to the stage of Maxwell. Describes parts of the brain. 2 models for how brain works: modularity vs wholism. Case. Patient who is fighting with her left hand which she can't control. This started after a stroke. Did the stroke damage the corpus colosum and therefore the left hemisphere inhibitory messages were interrupted. Smiles when natural are produced by a different process (basal ganglia) than when told to smile or when looking at mirror (motor cortex). This is clearly seen in patients with stroke in motor cortex who perform full natural smile, but their forced smile was only half (vice versa for patients with basal ganglia stroke). Hippocampus responsible for forming new memories. When removed their new memories are shortly lived only. The region of brain responsible for calculation. A patient who can't calculate. He understands what numbers are and what is an infinity. Laughed aylt a joke involving numbers. Stroke in Angular Gyrus. Has Discalculia and finger agnosia. These examples are pro-modularity. Chapter 2: Knowing when to scratch Tom. Phantom limb after an RTA. Wants to link this to nature vs nurture debate - are body maps in brain fixed by gene or do they change with experience [says the debate is still open. It isn't, both play part in us and cannot be separated.]. Phantom breast and phantom appendix. Other examples with penis, uterus, face.. No sufficient medical explaination. Only observations recorded and no experiments done. Human huminculus map. Proportions of each organ. Touching Tom's face and upper shoulder gave him perceptions in his phantom limb. The face and shoulder area in brain are next to hand. MEG to map brain (very similar to human huminculus results, but this one non-invasive). Their map is changed from the normal. What is the significance of this? Phantom legs felt when genitals were stimulated or at orgasm (again due to their near location on brain sensory cortex). A dude with ambutated leg felt orgasm not in his oenis but in his leg which made it feel much better. The man who mistook his foot for a penis. Could this explain the reason behind foot fetishes? Lol. Ear lobes stimulate phantom breasts. Chapter 3: Chasing the phantom J. B. S. Haldane God must love beetles. Rama God must be a map maker (so many maps in brain - 30 for vision alone). Lady born with no hands, but feel phantom limbs. But the phantom limbs are shorter than the prosthesis arm. A telescoped phantom limb. The guy felt pain when the dr pulled the cup while the phantom fingers were around it. This rasies questions about the role of vision in this sensation. 1/3 of phantom limbs are frozen/immovable. Motor cortex and supplementary motor area (for more complex movements such as doing good bye sign). Cerebellum and parietal lobe (for feedback? body image?) Phantom limb depends on two processes: 1. Remapping of brain areas. 2. ? Here he got the idea of creating the illusion that the arm was intact. Virtual reality was very expensive so he had to think about another method. Mirrors and boxes. First done on Philip Martenes in 1984. It worked from the first attempt, immediately, but his eyes had to remain open! This supported his theory of "learned paralysis". After a while the phantom arm was gone for gone. The shoulder was gone, but fingers were still there. This was a first in medical history. Speculates on why this has happened. The process of remapping after limb loss is a pthological one, and errors in this could give rise to the pain people with phantom limb pain have. Also pain memory from the lost limb. The mirror box works 50% of the time. Is the box a cure or merely a placebo? This possibility was eliminated. Is the pain due to brain giving orders to clinch more and more as there is no negative feedback from properioception or skin surface since the limb is amputated? The mirror might then provide the feedback needed for the brain to stop giving these orders which seem to be the source of pain? You the normal person can imagine the pain without feeling it, because we have skin in our limbs which gives signals to our brain telling it what is reality and what is imagination. Experiment on a patient. Made her think it was her hand movong when it was another hand. She still felt it was the phantom hand moving. This shows the role of vision in giving this illusory feeling. Anatomically impossible positions work too. They can hurt. Says his findings show that modularity of brain is wrong. Phantom limb arises from a complex interaction between nature and nurture. Leprosy patients don't experience phantom limbs when losing their limbs slowly via disease. But when amputations are made they get phantom limbs. Two body images in brain, one genetic unchanging and one up to date. They compete when limb amputation happens (it disturbs the equilibrium in favor of the genetic body image). Pain like all other sensory perceptions is an illusion created in the brain. Using one illusion to destroy another is no surprise afterall. Nise tapping experiment to show how our body image can change within seconds. Dummy hand/table experiment too. [Isn't this the same when he extend our sensation to car? He addressed this point and extends it to other people]. GSR device (to measure skin changes for fear). Works with the table experiment. Body image is a transient internal construct. A mere shell that you have temporarily created to pass off your genes to your offspring. Chapter 4: The zombie in the brain Dyan, a patient with a special case. CO poisoning. Coma and had brain damage associated with vision. She was practically blind, but had unconscious vision. Blind vision. The puzzle of the symbolic language used by brain for vision perception. Vision is a subtle (unconscious) form of inference [all observation is theory-laden]. 30 areas for vision: motion (a case of a patient without it), color area (damage to this area is different from the hereditary color vision -which is about photo receptors in the eye-, in this one -located in visial cortex- you see everything black and white), 2 paths for vision: Superior Coliculate (old pathway) and Lateral Gyniculate Nucleus (new pathway). The old pathway is blind sight (vision for action pathway or the how pathway). Why does the new pathway (the what pathway) have a privileged space in mind? What would happen if the how pathway is removed? Ballet's syndrome (damage of paratiel lobes). Reaching to things becomes harder and a tunnel like vision dominates. Binding problem. The problem of vision is soluble, discovering the pathways and visial regions is a big step forward. The many "zombies" (i.e. unconscious controls) within you The self "I' as an illusion. Chapter 5: The secret life of James Therber Blindness caused him visual hallucinations. Were so wonderful and facinating. Charles Banney syndrome. This affects millions of people worldwide. These involve logically impossible things. Difference betweeb seeing and imagining. Vision is an active constructe process. "Filling in" or perceptual completion. Vision is an educated guesswork, and so is science. Blind spot, decapitating people with it (lol) and its creative use. The filling by the brain can compensate even big loses in vision (schatoma), and it does it very well that it takes effort to notice it (e.g. not seeing the "wo" in women and thinking it's the men bathroom). An experience which shows process of filling in happening live (the two lines were gradually completed by his brain until they were linked). Confabilation ruled out by using big X's and small x's. He said only the small ones were completed. Number completion doesn't work, they look like heroglephics. Author concludes this shows that perception is not a single process, but several. Perceptual and conceptual filling in (the first happens by itself and you don't have a choice about it - it's simple and not guesswork or deduction like the latter). Guesswork is economic and saves energy as it doesn't need to scrutinize all the surface. Charles Bonne (discoverer of Parthinogenesis). The guy who discovered the visual hallucinations of blind or visually impaired people. Mentiones several cases of this syndrome. The hallucinations are up down (from memory) rather than bottom top (from perception). In normal people the normal sensation from the organs limits the hallucinations, whereas for impaired people no such inhibitory feedback is present Chapter 6: through the looking glass Hemineglect following a stroke (completely ignoring one side of your visual field). This is neglect and not blindness [lazy eyes]. This happens only with right paraietal damange (and not left). The reason behind this asymmetry is not well understood, but here's a speculation. Right hemisphere has a large global search light, while the left has a small searh light because it's so busy with other things. Cases of neglect patients and how they are managed. Mirror experiment; very strange result, she tried to grap the object from behind the mirror. Named it "Mirror agnosia" or "Looking glass syndrome". Only a minority of neglect patients responded positively and correctly reached to the left neglected side. Mirror agnosia as a cheap test for right paraitel lesions This makes us reflect in the reality of what we normal people see and how our sensations can distort the rules of nature (such as that of optics for mirror agnosia patients) Chapter 7: The sound of one hand clapping Anosagnosia (unaware of illness). Paralyzed in half of their body due to a stoke, yet she vigorously denies it. She is otherwise very smart, sane and knows what happened to her. Claims to be moving her paralyzed hand despite all the contrary evidence to the opposite! Claims to be seeing it move. Claims to be clapping. Astonishing confabilation. Other similar patients bring up excuses ans rationalizations as to why their paralyzed parts won't move (e.g. I'm just tired of people examining me and don't want to move my arm, or claim to have painful arthritis or to be bad at aiming). All of these are methods of self-deception. Freud wrote about how we deceive our selves when faced with unpleasant facts about ourselves. Others claimed the paralyzed hand wasn't theirs (their brother hand). This is known as Somatoparaphrenia. Two ways to explain this: Freudian and neglect syndrome. Problems with both explainations. He looks at differences between the hemispheres. His explaination is a combination of the two. Left hemisphere is like a conservative dude who would believe in all sorts of delusions and not change his model. He represses and denies info that doesn't fit. Right hemisphere as a revolutionary who wants to change the model and detects discrepancies. When the right is damaged, the left wins by default. Denial is part of human nature, wether about addiction, debts or the finality of death. Rwo tests to make sure of the denial of anasgnosia patients. Strange comments by these patients about doing activities with both hands as if somewhere in their brain they knew about their paralysis and were resisting it. Experiment to show that the denial is present even with other body parts such as the other functioning hand (right hand). There are degrees of denial between patients, some global and some more limited. The right hemisphere discrepancy detection confirmed by PET scan. Experiment for reverse denial? Cold water in ear worked as a truth serum and made the patient recognize her paralysis. Her denial personality returned few hours later and she denied confessing to being paralyzed. It is as there are 2 different consciousnesses, one truthful and one in denial. Normal people too have more than a personality; example from dreams where you tell yourself things you don't know or laught wholeheartedly at jokes. REM sleep to have a semilar effect to cold water in ear in removing denials. Freud! Memory, the holy grail of neuroscience. Repression and selective amnesia. After getting out of denial, patients become amnesiac about their denial and claim they had always told the truth. What about when we make it acceptable for the belief system of patients to admit their paralysis such as injecting them with just water and telling them this would cause their (paralyzed) hand to be paralyzed. He calls this "experimental epistemology". The patient said her arm was paralyzed! When the same thing was done to the functioning arm, it was not paralyzed even though both were given the same injection. The patient rationalized this by saying it was mind over matter. "What we call rational grounds for our beliefs are often extremely irrational attempts to justify our instincts." - Thomas Huxley. Freud wrote a whole deal of nonsense. His discovery of the unconscious mind and Defence Mechanisms however were amazing. He didn't do experiments to confirm his ideas, but Rama patients displayed the whole list of these mechanisms right before him. Denial. Repression. Reaction formation. Rationalization. Humor. Projection. Science humbles man. The reflection into the cosmos is a way to be religious for scientists. Chapter 8: The imbearable likeness of being Arthur, after a head injury, thinks his parents are imposters. They decide to fool his brain back into sanity. Kapgrass delusion. Rejects psychoanalytic explainations in terms of oedipus complex (son wanting to fuck their mother and vice versa etc), and favors a neuroanatomic approach. Face recognition areas in temporal lobe and emotional regions in limbic system (e.g. Amygdala). Arthur was tested for GSR (skin dampness) and this showed he had no emotional reaction to his parents which confimred Dr Rama speculation. In other situations Arthur had normal emotional life (i.e. his amygdala wasn't disfunctional). He recognized his parents on phone, but not upon seeing him. This is because they is a separate wiring to the Amygdala for vision and hearing, the hearing wasn't damaged. This teaches us that our brains have special emotional reaction by which we recognize the close people to us. There are also vision centers in the Amygdala (e.g. about gazing). Author speculates that those who think they are dead and rotting might have complete detachment of the Amygdala. To test Arthur for gaze detection. He was really bad at it. Interestingly, he thought the same model was 3 different people. He duplicated things, including Panama (the country), his hair (thought it a wig) and even himself (thought he was not the real Arthur). This probably tells us that the ability to store memories in the same category needs some glow or signal from the limbic system. People with amnesia would forget the person and retain the eomtional memory of him. Mirror of Arthur case. People with Ferguli syndrome think that all people are a certain person or group of people impersonating them, this may be due to excessive connections to the Amygdala. The case of Arthur calls into question the axiomatic assertion that we are a one unified self that endures through space and time. Chapter 9: God and the limbic system Michael Persinger and the God helmet which stimulates the temporal lobe. Religion as giving solace and meaning to life. The limbic system. Named by French neurologist Bruka. Epilepsy there as causing religious experiences. Temporal lobe personality. See cosmic significance in everything and write many notes on that (hypergraphia). Paul, a textbook case of temporal lobe seizures causing religious experience delusions. Makes speculations on evolutionary psychology. Endorses it, but warns against taking it too far. Makes a speculation on the natural origin of religion. Author chickens from saying this is evidence against God, saying it could also be used as evidence for God (he doesn't endorse either), for if we say this is an illusion then are colors an illusion too? [Yes they are an illusion created in our brain as representation for wave lengths, incidentally the author has mentioned previously that pain is an illusion.] GSR of religious people show they have inhabced reaction to religious things and diminshed one for other things, especially sexuality. If we removed the temporal lobe from these patients would they become atheists/agnostics? that is yet to be tested. Theory of evolution between Darwin and Wallace. Wallace's wondering about why our brains seem to posses capabilities which we do not need for survival (such as math, music etc), this is used to argue for a role for God in making human nature [will he reply to this nonsense?] Rejects general intelligence explainations. Explains how some genius traits are not associated with general intelligence. Savant syndrome patients as an example. Left Angular Gyrus has a role in math and computation. Right angular gyrus and art skills. Brain large size as a side effect of evolving for other purposes. Creativity is what makes us human. Chapter 10: The woman who died laughing 25 year old man involuntarily laughing out loud at his mother funeral. Continued for several hours. Died 2 days later due ti subarachnoid hemorrhage due to an aneurysm. A lady with same laughing fit to death. A girl whose brain was stimulated during surgery laughed out of control Laughter and its function. Endorses evolutionary psychology while still describing it as controversial and warning against going too far with explainations (e.g. trying to explain cooking with genes) or adoping gene-determinism vs environmental-determinism dicotomy. Differentiatimg between fact and fiction is very hard in this field as many of the ideas there are unprovable. *Maximum limit of Goodreads reviews reached!*

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Completely in awe of this scientist and his exciting work. I'd be interested to know how Ramachandran's work is viewed by other neurologists in the field (and philosophers too - he ventures daringly into their sovereign terrain a few times) since he adds a coda onto certain chapters explaining many of his own as of yet untested hypotheses and the experiments he still dreams of doing. He often tacitly invites the reader to play detective in-step alongside him and walks the reader through the info Completely in awe of this scientist and his exciting work. I'd be interested to know how Ramachandran's work is viewed by other neurologists in the field (and philosophers too - he ventures daringly into their sovereign terrain a few times) since he adds a coda onto certain chapters explaining many of his own as of yet untested hypotheses and the experiments he still dreams of doing. He often tacitly invites the reader to play detective in-step alongside him and walks the reader through the information in a very specific way, unlocking little bits of the mystery, giving you just enough information that you could perhaps come to the next question on your own, teasing you to use your own logic and come up with the next experiment or formulating the question on your own. It is not just a book informing you of the latest brain research but a warm, funny, often winking invitation from a scientist in the thick of one of the hottest research topics on earth to take a little journey with him, hand in hand. It is a treat to be allowed into the thought process of this brilliant scientist and his very compelling way of doing science to study how the mind works. Never would have imagined that so much valuable information could be gathered from strange exceptional cases like the man who thought his father was an imposter, but Ramachandran convincingly elucidates through many case studies why one particular kind of strange case here and there can sometimes offer more clues than studies on massive numbers of "normal" patients. I finally have an answer to the annoying standard interview question....if you could invite three people living or dead to dinner......forget the three people, forget the dead ones, it would be me, this book and my list of questions provoked by the case studies, and Ramachandran. I would serve polenta with truffles. There are some hints in the book that he has expensive taste in food and a thing for truffles.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    A solid set of neurology case-studies, in the tradition of Oliver Sacks. Ramachandran seems to have made his name explaining how different kinds of phantom limb syndromes function, and he's at his best when he's explaining the weird and miraculous ways the brain copes with the sudden loss of a part of the body. Also very good is the middle portion of the book, when he expands his survey to related neurological problems, including temporal lobe epilepsy (which seems to put some patients into dire A solid set of neurology case-studies, in the tradition of Oliver Sacks. Ramachandran seems to have made his name explaining how different kinds of phantom limb syndromes function, and he's at his best when he's explaining the weird and miraculous ways the brain copes with the sudden loss of a part of the body. Also very good is the middle portion of the book, when he expands his survey to related neurological problems, including temporal lobe epilepsy (which seems to put some patients into direct rapport with God) and anosognosia (where the patient refuses to recognize a part of the body is paralyzed). Some of the later chapters, where Ramachandran goes further afield into evolutionary psychology (a/k/a sociobiology), and various theories of consciousness, feel a little light and overly speculative-- for that stuff I'd stick with E.O. Wilson or Daniel Dennett. But overall, a very interesting read, made easier by frequent diagrams and Ramachandran's engaging prose style.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Donnie Edgemon

    I found this book interesting, but not fascinating. Ramachandran wrote the book for laymen. It was probably not easy for him to keep the content digestible for non-scientists, but he did a nice job of presenting complex concepts simply. The book is an overview of neurology, and Ramachandran demonstrated the functioning of the brain as it relates to human behavior through interesting studies of curious conditions such as phantom limbs, illusions of perception, and personality change. If you are a I found this book interesting, but not fascinating. Ramachandran wrote the book for laymen. It was probably not easy for him to keep the content digestible for non-scientists, but he did a nice job of presenting complex concepts simply. The book is an overview of neurology, and Ramachandran demonstrated the functioning of the brain as it relates to human behavior through interesting studies of curious conditions such as phantom limbs, illusions of perception, and personality change. If you are a non-scientist interested in learning about neurology, I recommend this book. If you are just looking for a fun pop - science read, there might be better options around.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alex Zakharov

    Fascinating bottom-up tour of the brain via studies of brain-damaged patients. Rama’s now well-known classic studies are covered in some detail - phantom limbs, synesthesia, Capgras delusion (impostors), mirror neurons (e.g. hijacking evolution via culture). Plenty of other less familiar (at least to me) studies are also covered – vision experiments (multiple pathways, hallucinations, ‘filling in’ strategies), left-right brain studies (e.g. ‘paradigm-shift’ vs ‘conservatism’ modalities), plus so Fascinating bottom-up tour of the brain via studies of brain-damaged patients. Rama’s now well-known classic studies are covered in some detail - phantom limbs, synesthesia, Capgras delusion (impostors), mirror neurons (e.g. hijacking evolution via culture). Plenty of other less familiar (at least to me) studies are also covered – vision experiments (multiple pathways, hallucinations, ‘filling in’ strategies), left-right brain studies (e.g. ‘paradigm-shift’ vs ‘conservatism’ modalities), plus some truly fascinating theories on linking temporal lobe epilepsy with various forms religious experience (e.g. breakdown in amygdala connectivity leading to massively enhanced emotional response). Thankfully and contrary to many other neuroscientists and cognitive scientists Rama tries to steer away from philosophy and/or grand theories of mind/consciousness. Instead he concentrates on the specific experiments and biological explanation of the results. Some experiments yielded pretty well-defined explanations while some others ended up in more speculative ones, and Rama is pretty good at distinguishing between the two. His theories/commentary, even when speculative are often quite ingenious and are well-worth knowing. Still given the subject matter it is hard not to slip into occasional implications for higher level theories of self, identity and consciousness. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that Rama is leaning towards the “self doesn’t exist” camp of thinkers but without associated dogmatism and inductive jumps. For example it is pretty clear that our perception of our own body can be very easily manipulated as can our sense of agency/ownership, but the mechanics/manipulation of the rest of the “self” perception needs much more work, let alone the other open yet-unsolved problems of qualia and consciousness. Interestingly and in contrast to Francis Crick and Christof Koch who want to solve qualia question first (via NCCs) and then move on to the self question, Rama speculates that the problems of qualia and self will have to be solved together – after all without the self, there is no qualia and vice-versa. Some other speculations I found worthwhile: - Rama thinks that eventually, once we can more precisely talk about and explain different aspects of consciousness, the question of consciousness per se will cease to exist. - Favors reductionism but at the right level of abstraction – not sure how it would work in practice though. - On free will : o likes the argument of “being able to change your mind” if/once the prediction of your action (through external observer) is revealed to you. Heisenberg uncertainty principle as applied to free will if you will. o thinks that Libet’s timing discrepancies are a red herring. There is no reason to expect the timing of perception of decision and neural signals behind it to coincide. My only gripe with the book is the last chapter where he went the pure grand-theory route in trying to explain cogent characteristics of self that any theory of consciousness would need to address. Too messy, imprecise, and wishy-washy, quite unlike the rest of the book. For a much more coherent theory see Thomas Metzinger.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Fathy Sroor

    Arthur Schopenhauer's has tilted his most famous book”The world as a will and representation”.. I think if he was to live in our time he would have removed the word”will” from it. The key idea is that although we take sight, hearing and all other sensations for granted as simple smooth processes, they are a way more complex than we can imagine.Neither Seeing is like videotaping nor hearing resembles recording.You(ironically by the final chapter you will understand that such propositions like “yo Arthur Schopenhauer's has tilted his most famous book”The world as a will and representation”.. I think if he was to live in our time he would have removed the word”will” from it. The key idea is that although we take sight, hearing and all other sensations for granted as simple smooth processes, they are a way more complex than we can imagine.Neither Seeing is like videotaping nor hearing resembles recording.You(ironically by the final chapter you will understand that such propositions like “you” and “I” are themselves far from the truth! There is no me or you.. Sorry)are locked inside a bony box(Skull) isolating you from the surrounding world.You communicate with this world through your sensory systems that receive the information from the physical reality, translate it into electric impulses, interpret, edit(and sometimes censor!), relate to previous memories then project it to”you”(your conscious part).There are many differences through this whole pathway among us that make our individual experience of the same”reality” is always unique! Through 360 pages, Dr.Ramashandran presents a punch of bizarre cases he encountered through his career.The defects & abnormalities these patients have are the keys that helped us to figure out how normal brains working.The interesting thing is that the strangeness of these cases reflects how strange our brains are. A very brilliant documentary by David Eagleman: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list... Translated : https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Maya

    This book, and it's author, has had a major influence on the direction of the research I am doing as part of my bachelors of science/master of arts degree program in music therapy. I recommend any fan of this author or the subject to watch and read his lectures available online. "During the last 3 decades, neuroscientists throughout the world have probed the nervous system in fascinating detail and have learned a great deal about the laws of mental life and about how these laws emerge from the bra This book, and it's author, has had a major influence on the direction of the research I am doing as part of my bachelors of science/master of arts degree program in music therapy. I recommend any fan of this author or the subject to watch and read his lectures available online. "During the last 3 decades, neuroscientists throughout the world have probed the nervous system in fascinating detail and have learned a great deal about the laws of mental life and about how these laws emerge from the brain. The pace of progress has been exhilerating, but - at the same time - the findingsmake many people uncomfortable. It seems somehow disconcerting to be told that your life, all your hopes, triumphs and aspirations simply arise from the activity of neurons in your brain. But far from being humiliating, this idea is enobling, I think. Science - cosmology, evolution, and especially the brain sciences - is telling us that we have no privileged position in the universe and that our sens of having a private nonmaterial soul "watching the world" is really an illusion (as has long been emphasized by Eastern mystical traditions like Hinduism and Zen Buddhism). Once you realize that far from being a spectator, you are in fact part of the eternal ebb and flow of events in the cosmos, this realization is very liberating. Ultimately this idea also allows you to cultivate a certain humility - the essence of all authentic religious experience..."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Stein

    Dr. Ramachandran is a brilliant mind and easy to follow. His ability to walk through case studies and apply them to the theories of medical science in the field makes him incredibly easy to follow and to see the connections between the symptoms and the best theories about the underlying condition. It's tough for me to read something outside my field because I always wonder what will happen if the author is misrepresenting areas of his field, creating strawmen or simply failing to point out that t Dr. Ramachandran is a brilliant mind and easy to follow. His ability to walk through case studies and apply them to the theories of medical science in the field makes him incredibly easy to follow and to see the connections between the symptoms and the best theories about the underlying condition. It's tough for me to read something outside my field because I always wonder what will happen if the author is misrepresenting areas of his field, creating strawmen or simply failing to point out that there are opinions which differ from his own. Ramachandran is humble in expressing his own opinions and good at articulating differing positions in ways that allow the individual to understand where the opposition does differ. The book is highly specialized, and while I have to say there were parts of his work towards the end that I didn't entirely agree with as I felt they were an unfair representation of the positions of most contemporary philosophers, his presentation of the material (which is fascinating) more than does it justice. If you're interested in what's going on in your brain and how that ties to bigger questions, as well as the ways in which it impacts everyday life, it's a fantastic read. And since the book covers a pretty enormous swathe of information on complexes which emerge from brain trauma, there's bound to be something in here that drops the jaw.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jesus (Ego)

    Uno de los mejores libros sobre aspectos neuropsicológicos, trastornos extraños de la mente y la conciencia y curiosidades de nuestro cerebro y nuestra conducta (miembro fantasma, agnosias, creencias religiosas, emociones, fenómenos mnésicos, etc.). La obra ya tiene unos añitos y el propio autor ha publicado otras posteriores que quizá estén más actualizadas pero éste no pasa de moda por su originalidad y la forma cercana y comprensible de narrar los experimentos particulares e hipótesis de este Uno de los mejores libros sobre aspectos neuropsicológicos, trastornos extraños de la mente y la conciencia y curiosidades de nuestro cerebro y nuestra conducta (miembro fantasma, agnosias, creencias religiosas, emociones, fenómenos mnésicos, etc.). La obra ya tiene unos añitos y el propio autor ha publicado otras posteriores que quizá estén más actualizadas pero éste no pasa de moda por su originalidad y la forma cercana y comprensible de narrar los experimentos particulares e hipótesis de este conocido neurólogo. Si te gustan las historias del tipo "el hombre que confundió a su mujer con un sombrero" de Oliver Sacks, te gustará este libro. Quizá menos comercial, pero igualmente fascinante.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kent

    I'm only two chapters in but I already know this book is a badass motherfucker. For one, it was almost called "The man who mistook his foot for a penis." For secondary, this neurologist / sleuth discovered how to cure people of phantom limb pain and in the process made an amazing discovery about the mind. from p. 7: "...it is a physician's duty always to ask himself, 'What does it feel like to be in the patient's shoes?'" For tertiary, this man is the first doctor to, as he puts it, amputate a ph I'm only two chapters in but I already know this book is a badass motherfucker. For one, it was almost called "The man who mistook his foot for a penis." For secondary, this neurologist / sleuth discovered how to cure people of phantom limb pain and in the process made an amazing discovery about the mind. from p. 7: "...it is a physician's duty always to ask himself, 'What does it feel like to be in the patient's shoes?'" For tertiary, this man is the first doctor to, as he puts it, amputate a phantom limb.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rahul Vaidya

    This book is the most amazing book which I have read in a long time. Written in clear crisp language, this book provides a great insight into human brain derived from experiments. It is the experiments which makes the book interesting. This book also provides some insights into long standing questions which great minds have been pondering about: - What is consciousness? - Why Religion/God? I think brain is one of the fields which will see a huge development in coming years and reading this book prov This book is the most amazing book which I have read in a long time. Written in clear crisp language, this book provides a great insight into human brain derived from experiments. It is the experiments which makes the book interesting. This book also provides some insights into long standing questions which great minds have been pondering about: - What is consciousness? - Why Religion/God? I think brain is one of the fields which will see a huge development in coming years and reading this book provides a glimpse at how exciting the field will be.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Son Tung

    This book again shows how much we still do not know about human brain from a perspective of real world phenomenon: phantom limbs, phantom pain, faulty perception... The author's hilarious and philosophical tone makes it very entertaining at times. Oliver Sack's The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat was mentioned in a few occasions, maybe i will read it this summer.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Troy Blackford

    This is a modern classic in the field, and one can easily see why. Dr. Ramachandran recounts--with great vigor and personality--his many interesting sojourns into the link between brain and experience. His experiments with patients reveal so many intriguing examples of the way brain influences mind and the perceived world and self, and this is an excellent showcase of those truths.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dillon Petrillo

    this book blew my mind. neuroscience for the layman? yes please. without patronization? thanks! interesting AND funny? well V.S. Ramachandran, I think you might just be a super hero.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.