PHANTOMS IN THE BRAIN by V.S. Ramachandran

PHANTOMS IN THE BRAIN

Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind

KIRKUS REVIEW

Insights and intriguing speculations from a neurologist whose patients provide him with unusual opportunities to explore the brain. Ramachandran’s present volume began as a Decade of the Brain lecture given three years ago at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. With the help of New York Times writer Blakeslee, he has expanded that address to scientists into a work of popular science for the general reader. He introduces patients with strange, sometimes extraordinary, symptoms—a man who experiences orgasms in an amputated, or phantom, foot; a woman who is convinced that her own arm must belong to her brother; stroke victims who insist they can move their paralyzed limbs; an accident survivor who believes that his parents are imposters; perfectly sane men and women with hallucinations of animals, objects, even cartoons—and then offers his ideas about what is going on in the patient’s brain that would explain such symptoms. Often he devises ingenious experiments involving mirrors, gloves, and helpful graduate students to test his ideas. The results are a new understanding of how information from different senses interacts and how the brain forms new connections and updates its model of reality in response to new sensory inputs. The wide-ranging Ramachandran also looks into the brain for clues about the mystery of autistic savants, human laughter, multiple personality disorder, religious experiences, and the very nature of the self. Besides informative drawings and images of the human brain, the text contains numerous illustrations demonstrating optical phenomena that demand reader involvement. Ramachandran, who likens himself to a sleuth and has boundless curiosity, leads readers on a riveting trail of detection. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 2nd, 1998
ISBN: 0-688-15247-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1998




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