The Tell-Tale Brain - A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human

Review :

This is a brilliant book by a first-rate scientist. Ramachandran has personally made some amazing discoveries in the field of neuroscience. His writing is lucid, and his enthusiastic, personable style makes this an informative, as well as a very entertaining book.

Ramachandran's approach is to investigate patients who have had varying degrees and types of brain defects or injuries. These patients acquire abilities or handicaps that Ramachandran interprets and analyzes, in the hope of casting light on the underlying structure of the brain. Some of these handicaps are quite bizarre, for example: blindsight, in which a person has only subconscious ability to see; synesthesia, in which a person sees numbers (or musical notes) in colors; fantom limbs, in which an amputee "feels" pain emanating from the missing limb; a condition where a person with partial paralysis vehemently denies that he/she has any problem; and many, many more interesting cases.

Ramachandran shows how important mirror neurons are, in making us "human". He explains why they evolved in our brains, and how central the feeling of empathy is to human survival. This topic is made exquisitely interesting, by Ramachandran's original analyses and hypotheses. What's more, Ramachandran often proposes experiments that could be used to test his hypotheses. Given enough time, I think that he would personally perform all of these experiments.

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