An exhaustive look at the process behind the formation of thoughts and memories.
Debut author Dharani, a medical doctor, expounds on his “molecular-grid model” of thought generation in this work. He begins by explaining the anatomy of the human brain and nervous system before zeroing in on the composition and electrochemical functions of neurons and dendrites. Next, he describes how particular brain pathways are involved in the formation of various types of memory, including short-term and long-term memory as well as episodic and semantic memory (the latter involving accumulated, general knowledge). The fundamental unit of ideas and memories, he says, is a “primary thought,” which is “formed from each and every sensory input.” (Dharani uses the perception of the color blue as a particularly effective recurring example.) The ability to form primary thoughts, he says, appears to be inherited or possibly innate; they arise in response to everyday stimuli and sensations, he asserts, and they combine to form more complex ideas. He argues that such thoughts are generated in the “molecular grid” in the dendritic membrane, specifically, rather than in the whole neuron, and he details the protein interactions by which it works. Other sections explore the evolution of the mind and the differences between neurons and man-made computers. This well-structured book uses bullet points and frequent diagrams to ensure that its copious information is always reader-friendly. It also italicizes and boldfaces key words and phrases, which correspond with helpful entries in the glossary and index. One particular chapter, which goes deeper into the formation of memory traces and dendritic pleats, may be the most interesting section for general readers, as it discusses mental pathways that exist in utero and in newborns—which, he says, may explain artistic prodigies, such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Only one chapter, which discusses the metaphysics of thought, seems slightly out of place, as its philosophical theme contrasts with the remainder’s physiological focus.
An engaging, in-depth, and accessible book on brain function.