Neuroscience

“Accessible, witty . . . an important new researcher, philosopher and popularizer of brain science . . . on par with cosmology’s Brian Greene and the late Carl Sagan” (The Plain Dealer).
 
One of the Wall Street Journal’s 10 Best Nonfiction Books of the Year and a Publishers Weekly “Top Ten in Science” Title
 
Every person is unique, but science has struggled to pinpoint where, precisely, that uniqueness resides. Our genome may determine our eye color and even aspects of our character. But our friendships, failures, and passions also shape who we are. The question is: How?
 
Sebastian Seung is at the forefront of a revolution in neuroscience. He believes that our identity lies not in our genes, but in the connections between our brain cells—our particular wiring. Seung and a dedicated group of researchers are leading the effort to map these connections, neuron by neuron, synapse by synapse. It’s a monumental effort, but if they succeed, they will uncover the basis of personality, identity, intelligence, memory, and perhaps disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.
 
Connectome is a mind-bending adventure story offering a daring scientific and technological vision for understanding what makes us who we are, as individuals and as a species.
 
“This is complicated stuff, and it is a testament to Dr. Seung’s remarkable clarity of exposition that the reader is swept along with his enthusiasm, as he moves from the basics of neuroscience out to the farthest regions of the hypothetical, sketching out a spectacularly illustrated giant map of the universe of man.” —TheNew York Times
 
“An elegant primer on what’s known about how the brain is organized and how it grows, wires its neurons, perceives its environment, modifies or repairs itself, and stores information. Seung is a clear, lively writer who chooses vivid examples.” —TheWashington Post
The New York Times–bestselling author provides an “entertaining” look at how artists enlighten us about the workings of the brain (New York magazine).
 
In this book, the author of How We Decide and Imagine: How Creativity Works “writes skillfully and coherently about both art and science”—and about the connections between the two (Entertainment Weekly).
 
In this technology-driven age, it’s tempting to believe that science can solve every mystery. After all, it’s cured countless diseases and sent humans into space. But as Jonah Lehrer explains, science is not the only path to knowledge. In fact, when it comes to understanding the brain, art got there first.
 
Taking a group of artists—a painter, a poet, a chef, a composer, and a handful of novelists—Lehrer shows how each one discovered an essential truth about the mind that science is only now rediscovering. We learn, for example, how Proust first revealed the fallibility of memory; how George Eliot discovered the brain’s malleability; how the French chef Escoffier discovered umami (the fifth taste); how Cézanne worked out the subtleties of vision; and how Gertrude Stein exposed the deep structure of language—a full half-century before the work of Noam Chomsky and other linguists.
 
More broadly, Lehrer shows that there’s a cost to reducing everything to atoms and acronyms and genes. Measurement is not the same as understanding, and art knows this better than science does. An ingenious blend of biography, criticism, and first-rate science writing, Proust Was a Neuroscientist urges science and art to listen more closely to each other, for willing minds can combine the best of both to brilliant effect.
 
“His book marks the arrival of an important new thinker . . . Wise and fresh.” —Los Angeles Times
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