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

W. W. Norton & Company
23
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"A profoundly intriguing and compelling guide to the intricacies of the human brain." —Oliver Sacks

In this landmark work, V. S. Ramachandran investigates strange, unforgettable cases—from patients who believe they are dead to sufferers of phantom limb syndrome. With a storyteller’s eye for compelling case studies and a researcher’s flair for new approaches to age-old questions, Ramachandran tackles the most exciting and controversial topics in brain science, including language, creativity, and consciousness.

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About the author

V. S. Ramachandran is the director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and a Distinguished Professor with the Psychology Department and Neurosciences Program at the University of California, San Diego. He lives in Del Mar, California.

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Additional Information

Publisher
W. W. Norton & Company
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Published on
Jan 17, 2011
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Pages
384
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ISBN
9780393080582
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Life Sciences / Neuroscience
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Why do we do the things we do?

Over a decade in the making, this game-changing book is Robert Sapolsky's genre-shattering attempt to answer that question as fully as perhaps only he could, looking at it from every angle. Sapolsky's storytelling concept is delightful but it also has a powerful intrinsic logic: he starts by looking at the factors that bear on a person's reaction in the precise moment a behavior occurs, and then hops back in time from there, in stages, ultimately ending up at the deep history of our species and its genetic inheritance.

And so the first category of explanation is the neurobiological one. What goes on in a person's brain a second before the behavior happens? Then he pulls out to a slightly larger field of vision, a little earlier in time: What sight, sound, or smell triggers the nervous system to produce that behavior? And then, what hormones act hours to days earlier to change how responsive that individual is to the stimuli which trigger the nervous system? By now, he has increased our field of vision so that we are thinking about neurobiology and the sensory world of our environment and endocrinology in trying to explain what happened.

Sapolsky keeps going--next to what features of the environment affected that person's brain, and then back to the childhood of the individual, and then to their genetic makeup. Finally, he expands the view to encompass factors larger than that one individual. How culture has shaped that individual's group, what ecological factors helped shape that culture, and on and on, back to evolutionary factors thousands and even millions of years old.

The result is one of the most dazzling tours de horizon of the science of human behavior ever attempted, a majestic synthesis that harvests cutting-edge research across a range of disciplines to provide a subtle and nuanced perspective on why we ultimately do the things we do...for good and for ill. Sapolsky builds on this understanding to wrestle with some of our deepest and thorniest questions relating to tribalism and xenophobia, hierarchy and competition, morality and free will, and war and peace. Wise, humane, often very funny, Behave is a towering achievement, powerfully humanizing, and downright heroic in its own right.
Most of us have no idea what’s really going on inside our heads. Yet brain scientists have uncovered details every business leader, parent, and teacher should know—like the need for physical activity to get your brain working its best.

How do we learn? What exactly do sleep and stress do to our brains? Why is multi-tasking a myth? Why is it so easy to forget—and so important to repeat new knowledge? Is it true that men and women have different brains?

In Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina, a molecular biologist, shares his lifelong interest in how the brain sciences might influence the way we teach our children and the way we work. In each chapter, he describes a brain rule—what scientists know for sure about how our brains work—and then offers transformative ideas for our daily lives.

Medina’s fascinating stories and infectious sense of humor breathe life into brain science. You’ll learn why Michael Jordan was no good at baseball. You’ll peer over a surgeon’s shoulder as he proves that most of us have a Jennifer Aniston neuron. You’ll meet a boy who has an amazing memory for music but can’t tie his own shoes.

You will discover how:

Every brain is wired differently
Exercise improves cognition
We are designed to never stop learning and exploring
Memories are volatile
Sleep is powerfully linked with the ability to learn
Vision trumps all of the other senses
Stress changes the way we learn

In the end, you’ll understand how your brain really works—and how to get the most out of it.
El eminente neurólogo Vilanayur S. Ramachandran investiga en esta obra diversos casos extraños y significativos -desde pacientes que creen estar muertos hasta los que padecen el síndrome del miembro fantasma- y nos expone una perspectiva inédita de los misterios del cerebro humano.

¿Por qué unos somos más creativos que otros? ¿Qué provoca el autismo y cómo se podría detectar y tratar? ¿Por qué consideramos hermosas ciertas cosas? ¿Cómo evolucionó el lenguaje? ¿Y cómo crea el cerebro algo tan inaprensible como el “sentido del yo”?... Son algunos de los extraordinarios misterios neurológicos que aborda el autor esta obra de referencia.

Vilayanur S. Ramachandran es un neurocientífico extraordinariamente intuitivo, al estilo de Sherlock Holmes, que investiga algunas manifestaciones neurológicas desconcertantes, como las de los pacientes que desean que les sea amputado un brazo o una pierna sanos, o a los individuos aquejados del síndrome de Capgras, que creen que sus seres queridos son unos impostores. El autor nos explica estas conductas extravagantes partiendo del funcionamiento interno del cerebro, exponiéndonos al propio tiempo los avances recientes de la neurociencia, y nos revela lo que estos casos tan poco habituales nos enseñan sobre el cerebro humano normal y su singular evolución.

Combinando la seriedad del investigador y la voluntad divulgativa de quien desea acercar los temas científicos al público no especializado, Ramachandran aborda brillantemente todas las cuestiones relacionadas con los misterios y extraordinarias capacidades del cerebro humano.

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