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The Tell-Tale Brain: The Book Report

Updated on November 26, 2012

A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human

Author: V.S. Ramachandran, recognized neuroscientist, expert, and renowned author of Phantoms in the Brain.

Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company 2011. Hard cover; good and helpful illustrations, bibliography and index.

Discussion: On Page 41 of his book, the author states: "This book is about what makes humans special, and a recurring theme is that our unique mental traits must have evolved from preexisting brain structures." The author's purpose in writing, therefore, contrasts with recent neuroscience books which limit themselves to the current state of knowledge or research with respect to the human mind alone. In his book, Dr. Ramachandran emphasizes research with respect to the brain science of other living things, tracing such evolution to potential and existing human brain structures and activities. In addition, the author debunks commonly held misconceptions about human senses. For example, in Chapter 4 on sight, he explains that it is the brain that is our true organ of site, and not out eyes. The book also contains discussions regarding how knowledge of the functions of the brain are advanced by study of how things go wrong.

Rating: The author's tone is, as one would expect, professional and somewhat technical, although highly readable. It seems to this writer that any inquiry into the workings of the human mind must entertain the fact that it has been and is an evolving structure. This book is recommended.

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