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The Body Has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) Everything Better (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 9. September 2008


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Produktinformation

  • Taschenbuch: 240 Seiten
  • Verlag: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Auflage: Reprint (9. September 2008)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0812975278
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812975277
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13,1 x 1,6 x 20,3 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 81.902 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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Synopsis

A critical analysis of the interaction between the mind and the body describes how the brain maps out every part of the body and the space around it and how the brain controls the ability to sense, move, and act in the physical world. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe .

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Sandra Blakeslee is a regular contributor to The New York Times who specializes in the brain sciences. She has co-written many books, including Phantoms in the Brain with V. S. Ramachandran, On Intelligence with Jeff Hawkins, and Second Chances: Men, Women and Children a Decade After Divorce with Judith S. Wallerstein. She is the third generation in a family of science writers.

Matthew Blakeslee is a freelance science writer in Los Angeles. He represents the fourth generation of Blakeslee science writers. This is his first book.


From the Hardcover edition.

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1 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Stephen A. Haines am 25. Mai 2008
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Research on the brain has come far since the 1930s when Wilder Penfield of the University of Montreal was compelled to cut open the skulls of epileptic patients. The process meant the epileptic victim remained awake. It was the only way Penfield could learn from the subject who would describe their reactions to his gentle probing. The information, however, often led to relief resulting from Penfield's later precise surgery based on his mappings. In this comprehensive account, the authors - a mother-son science journalist team - trace the research resulting from Penfield's early efforts. In clear, concise prose, they show the revolutionary advances that have come about since then and how Penfield's early "brain maps" provided the foundation for even more effective therapies.

Penfield's technique seems harshly cruel today, but the patients suffered far more from the disability than from the probing, as the brain has no nerves that transmit pain. The mapping became a guide for better understanding of how the brain and body interact. Some of this work was covered in Sandra Blakeslee's earlier collaboration with V. S. Ramachandran: "Phantoms In the Brain". That study pointed out how amputees can still sense the presence of a missing limb, even feeling "pain" that can have no discernible cause. This work carries the implications of Ramachandran's findings forward, expanding it to address other, less extreme examples. The body-brain links are many, varied and subject to constant change. The authors refer to this as "The Body Mandala", a graphic representation of a detailed, intensely interwoven network. In this mandala, however, change is constant and varying.

The hands and fingers play a large role in this book. Professional golfers are subject to a condition they refer to as "yips".
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Amazon.com: 29 Rezensionen
104 von 107 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Excellent introduction to a complex and fascinating topic 29. Oktober 2007
Von M. L Lamendola - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This is an excellent book. The authors have a gift for making a complex subject understandable. Another plus is that, like the best of nonfiction authors, they stick to the subject and rely on facts rather than opinion. This book provides a wonderful introduction into an area of science formerly limited to neurologists and other highly-trained specialists.

Central theme
The central theme of this book is that the brain maps the body. In fact, different areas of the brain contain different kinds of body maps with different functions. These body maps in the brain determine such things as how you perceive reality and how you respond to that perception. One of the most fascinating aspects is the plasticity of these maps.

For example, have you ever noticed that you can "feel" with the end of a tool? You put a wrench on a nut, and you suddenly have several important bits of information about that nut. This is because your body map extends to include the tool. And it's why mechanics can accurately work without actually seeing what their hands or tools are touching. Body maps extend from the rider to include the horse and from the horse to include the rider. Lovers share body maps, and the book explores what goes on there also.

This book explores the effects of dysfunctional body maps, too, shedding light on such things as eating disorders and out of body experiences. And it looks at the interplay between body maps and culture, language, music, emotions, pain, and even parenting.

The brain and the body are not separate entities, but are intertwined, interdependent, and interfunctional. Understanding this fact is essential to understanding how and why body maps work. This book explains that lucidly.

You may have heard of the "little man" theory, or the homunculus theory. If not, perhaps you recall the drawing of the skull being opened to reveal a little man operating control levers. That drawing represents the theory. We all know there's not an actual physical person of tiny stature pulling levers in our heads. But it's commonly thought that the "me" of us is a central entity that works like that little man. Another common analogy for this theory is the symphony conductor.

Because of this theory, many early researchers of body maps looked for the master map. As it turns out, there isn't one. There is not "little man," no master homunculus, no conductor, no central authority. The brain is a collection of homunculi or body maps working together. If this doesn't sound possible, think of an ant colony. There is no master ant giving out directions. Each ant does its part in a concert of ants with no conductor. The many body maps of the brain are similarly independent yet cooperative. The brain also contains body maps that facilitate the communication between these disparate parts and the various body maps those parts use.

Only flaw
The book runs a couple hundred pages, in an unusually small typeface. It would be better, in a future release, to be produced in a larger font. I don't think anyone over about the age of 30 can read it unaided. This production issue is the one flaw in this book, and I hope the publisher decides to spend a bit more on paper to fix that in the next printing.

Summary of contents
The Body Has a Mind of Its Own consists of 10 chapters. The first chapter gives the reader the background about body maps and how they are everywhere in the brain. Chapter Two talks about the little man theory discussed earlier in this review.

Chapter Three talks about how body maps filter and change incoming information to conform to what the map expects to see. You've no doubt heard the expression "People hear what they want to hear." That is a basic aspect of our brain, which is a prediction machine. It's always looking for matches. Just as politicians change the data to match their statements, so quite often does the brain change or filter information so that it matches what the brain expects to see. This is the basis for illusions, and we all know those work.

Sometimes these illusions don't serve us very well. One example the book uses is the anorexic who feels fat. This prediction thing isn't all bad--many self-help experts advise us to imagine ourselves as having already achieved something or to take on some other enabling attitude.

Chapter Four takes the concepts of Chapter Three a step further, and looks at why mental practice--long used by martial artists--is nearly as effective as physical practice and why when both are done you get a 2 + 2 = 5 effect.

Chapters Five and Six explore what happens when body maps blur or break. Some of the manifestations are bizarre.

Earlier, I mentioned that when you grasp a tool your body map extends to include that tool. Chapter Eight includes a discussion of this in the broader context of where body maps end. Chapter Seven also talks about where body maps end, but more in terms of how they seek to exclude things that are not part of the body.

Sales trainers talk about mimicking other people to win their agreement. In Chapter Nine, we see why this works.

Deep in the brain is a structure called the insula. Only mammals even have one. In humans, it's massive compared to those of other species (relatively speaking--in whales, body parts are just plain bigger on an absolute scale). The consensus now is the insula is the seat of emotional awareness. Chapter Ten, in discussing the insula, is a fitting last chapter because it is, at least to me, the most profound part of the book.

The authors tie everything together in the Afterword, but also raise additional questions that are worth pondering as we search for meaning and purpose in life.

Descartes concluded that because he thinks he must exist. Has your human mind has ever contemplated itself, trying to answer the question, "Who am I? Or have you wondered about where in your body your mind actually resides? The Body Has a Mind of Its Own will help you bring some fascinating information to bear on those concepts and many others. Not only is this book thought-provoking, but it helps explain thought itself. How you perceive reality may not be as straightforward as you once thought. Or still think, depending on your body maps.
107 von 114 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Fascinating description of how the brain/body work together 24. September 2007
Von Timothy D. Lundeen - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
The Body Has a Mind of Its Own is a new book by Sandra Blakeslee and Matthew Blakeslee, a mother-son partnership with a history of writing good science books and articles. I found this book from an article they wrote for Scientific American's Mind magazine.

The book is a fascinating summary of current research on how the brain and body interact, well-written and enjoyable.

It starts with the brain map that processes incoming touch signals and the motor map that sends out signals to your muscles. We all have much larger areas for our fingers, lips and tongue relative to the rest of our bodies, because accurate input from these areas is so important.

These maps change dynamically with use, so that pianists have much larger area for all their fingers, violinists have a much larger area for just their left hand. When two fingers are taped together, their maps merge; when they are untaped the maps revert to normal. Improper overlapping of these sensory/motor maps can cause performance problems, such as the "yips" that some golfers develop that make them jerk erratically on some strokes.

Mental practice can be as good as physical practice in some circumstances. When you have something down, and know how to do it, mental practice has the same effect on your mental body maps as physical practice. So at a certain level, you can cut down on wear-and-tear on your body and continue to improve by phasing in some mental rehersal.

Your brain has a tremendous degree of flexibility in how it integrates what it sees into your sense of reality. In a virtual-reality world, you can be given longer arms, or lobster arms, or a tentacle in the middle of your stomach, and your brain will accept what it sees and you will feel as if these changes are "natural". Jaron Lanier, who coined the phrase "virtual reality", calls this "homuncular flexibility" (from the old idea of a homunculus in your brain, a little man who drives your body).

Mirror neurons are a recent discovery: when someone lifts a cup to their mouth, your mirror neurons will fire, and you can learn something new just by watching someone else do it. Mirror neurons respond to actions, to intentions, and also react to other people's emotion: when someone is sad or happy or angry, your mirror neurons give you the same feeling. When someone feels pain, you feel the same pain via your mirror neurons. Mirror neurons help babies and children develop and pick up the things they need to know in their culture. Autism may be cause by problems with mirror neurons, where autistic people don't produce the right brain signals to recognize other people's intentions or emotions.

The insula is the part of your brain where all of your internal sensory input comes together, from your heart, lungs, stomach, intestines, and so on. They signal needs such as thirst, hunger, and the need to breathe. The insula also gets input from a separate set of receptors on your skin and mouth: temperature, pain, itch, ache, and touch. Many inputs, such as being pinched, will signal both the insula and your body touch maps.

The insula is a critical part of what it means to be human, to have "sentiment, sentience, and emotional awareness". Of all the mamals, only humans and other primates have this rich set of input into the insula. "It is here that the mind and body unite. It is the foundation for emotional intelligence."

The insula plays a key role in pain management. Pain is handled in the same way as an emotion, both of which result in elevated activity in the insula. This is why meditation and biofeedback can both be effective ways to deal with chronic pain. By helping someone learn to turn down the activity in their insula, they can learn to reduce the ongoing sensation and stress from pain. The same kind of learning can help people who are anxious, and have a generally high level of arousal in their insula, to be less anxious and stressed.

Highly recommended.
28 von 28 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
The mandala of the mind 25. Mai 2008
Von Stephen A. Haines - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Research on the brain has come far since the 1930s when Wilder Penfield of the University of Montreal was compelled to cut open the skulls of epileptic patients. The process meant the epileptic victim remained awake. It was the only way Penfield could learn from the subject who would describe their reactions to his gentle probing. The information, however, often led to relief resulting from Penfield's later precise surgery based on his mappings. In this comprehensive account, the authors - a mother-son science journalist team - trace the research resulting from Penfield's early efforts. In clear, concise prose, they show the revolutionary advances that have come about since then and how Penfield's early "brain maps" provided the foundation for even more effective therapies.

Penfield's technique seems harshly cruel today, but the patients suffered far more from the disability than from the probing, as the brain has no nerves that transmit pain. The mapping became a guide for better understanding of how the brain and body interact. Some of this work was covered in Sandra Blakeslee's earlier collaboration with V. S. Ramachandran: "Phantoms In the Brain". That study pointed out how amputees can still sense the presence of a missing limb, even feeling "pain" that can have no discernible cause. This work carries the implications of Ramachandran's findings forward, expanding it to address other, less extreme examples. The body-brain links are many, varied and subject to constant change. The authors refer to this as "The Body Mandala", a graphic representation of a detailed, intensely interwoven network. In this mandala, however, change is constant and varying.

The hands and fingers play a large role in this book. Professional golfers are subject to a condition they refer to as "yips". Yips are a condition where the hand is unresponsive to your wishes, or move in unintended directions. Musicians, particularly violin players, have a similar affliction in the fingers used to press the strings down. For professionals, this can be disastrous, impairing or even destroying a career. Victims will hide the condition if possible, hoping exercise or other therapy will provide a cure. It rarely does, with the authors pointing out that such exercises may actually worsen the condition. Other professions, such as tennis or soccer, for example, may have an entirely different effect on the body's mandala. The reaching for anything, even with a bat or racquet in the hand, extends the brain's mapping to reflect the action. Your "body map", linked with the brain, expands as you seek the cup of coffee on your desk. The concept gives an entirely new meaning to the term "personal space". Do politicians make this projection when addressing crowds?

The revelations provided here will change drastically not only our view of ourselves, but provide the means of therapy for conditions once considered impossible to treat. Moreover, as the authors make clear, the centre of operations for our body is the brain. Because we exist in a variety of environments with our brain constantly adjusting to the changes, the authors spend much time on recent research in "brain plasticity". The concept of brain plasticity overturned a long-held belief among neurologists that brain maps were firmly set in adolescence. The Blakeslee team recounts Ramachandran's work on "phantom" limbs, but go on to show how therapies and prosthetic devices have given even amputees amazing new capabilities. The case of Aimee Mullins, who was born without the fibula bone in her legs, went on to become an Olympic runner using artificial "feet". This success was due to her constant practice remapping her brain's image of where her body could extend.

This book is an excellent summation of the research and clinical work performed over the past generation. It's skilfully written and amply illustrated with diagrams and photographs. However, no matter how outstanding a science journalist's talents, the entire lack of references strongly diminishes the value of this book. Also lacking is any explanation of how some of the recording techniques today actually work. A good science writer should be able to convey the mechanics without undue difficulty. With the number of works on brain science now available to the non-specialist, these are inexcusable lapses. If no other work of writing skill or comprehensive coverage were on the market, this book would be a fine introduction to the topic. As it is, it might as well be a collection of New York Times Science Page columns, for which Sandra Blakeslee has an enviable reputation. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
16 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Interesting relationships between the body and brain for all readers 21. Oktober 2008
Von Amar Kadaba - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
The Body has a Mind of its Own was an enjoyable read and was not at all a "textbook," as some science non-fiction writing can be. As a student in a Neuroscience class, I could scientifically appreciate what the Blakeslees were saying, but also as someone who doesn't find time to sit down and read a book often, I found that they managed to keep my attention through their interesting examples and obvious enthusiasm.

The underlying theme of the book, as portrayed in the text's subtitle, is how the combination of multiple neural circuits in the brain helps to map out pretty much everything that we do. This topic appeals to a broad audience because the examples that the authors present show that in fact, we use these maps on a daily basis.

The book has 10 chapters, each looking at a different aspect of how these body maps and their plasticity help us get through our lives. The introduction and first chapter provide a basis for what will be discussed throughout the rest of the book, the idea that we understand our bodies using a "tightly integrated network" of body maps. The next three chapters present the idea of the homunculus as well as how this "little man" can sense such things as how we perceive touch, how we perform athletically, and even why your last diet failed. The following two chapters provide several interesting, yet strange examples of what happens when these body maps go wrong. The authors use one chapter apiece to describe when the maps "go blurry" and what happens when they flat out "break." Chapters 7 and 8 begin to explain where the body maps end when it comes to proprioception, and chapter 9 provides extremely interesting information on mirror neurons, including how they make sports fans as crazy as we are. The final chapter of the book takes a look at body maps created by interoception and emotion.

I have a very high opinion of the book, and thought that the authors did a great job of portraying several somewhat complex ideas in a way that almost anyone could understand.

Specific Opinions
Throughout the book, there are several text boxes and illustrations that provide sometimes extra, sometimes necessary, but always interesting information on the topic being discussed. I especially enjoyed reading these additional text boxes and illustrations that provided an extra reinforcement for the information being provided in the text itself. Not to mention that most of the text boxes presented interesting real-life examples such as the NCAA runner with two prosthetic legs and the fourteen-year-old boy who could play computer games without even lifting a finger, but instead with his mind. I felt this was an interesting way of portraying the facts, but I liked seeing them separated rather than just another paragraph. In my opinion, this made the book far easier to read.

I liked that the authors provided background on the first instances of understanding functional integration within the primary somatosensory area as well as the primary motor area. I also found it interesting to see where the origins of the homunculus model are based. This "little man" kept popping up through the book, and the concepts ranged from how clumsy people differed from well coordinated people to how imagining practicing can have the same effects as doing the actual activity.

The authors mention in the title that these body maps help you do (almost) everything better. What I enjoyed most in this book were the specific examples that the authors gave. These ranged all the way from throwing darts to why you duck when you're wearing a hat; from why people are superstitious about stepping shadows to the underlying causes of eating disorders. Even all the way to why you yawn when you see someone else yawn. I also enjoyed the metaphors that the Blakeslees used. I especially liked how they used the Mandala to show the "big picture" of how all of these smaller maps come together in the brain to make up "who" we really think we "are".

Flaw
The only thing that I didn't like and noticed throughout the book was something that the authors stated in the acknowledgements section: "And finally, many researchers whose work contributed to this book have not been credited in the style becoming academic papers." Being an undergraduate student, I know that you never write of someone's work without properly citing it and was disappointed that I was unable to see where some information was coming from. As I read the book, I asked myself whether or not a statement was actually researched and documented in a laboratory setting or if it was just pure speculation. This is my only negative comment on the book, which I would still highly recommend.

From the looks of some of the negative feedback on this book, it seems that people take the subtitle to heart and think that this is a "how-to" book. The authors have instead taken several interesting neurological phenomena and have shown how they are caused, or sometimes cured, by the body maps within the brain.

My advice for reading the book is to read each chapter as you would in any other book, but if you are unsure of a topic or idea take the time to read over the text boxes and illustration descriptions. Even otherwise, I highly recommend reading all of these additional items since they are equally as interesting as they are informative.

My recommendation for potential readers is definitely to give this book a chance, whether you are someone who has a profession in neuroscience or if you are just someone who enjoys a light book that is very interesting and that provides a look into the inner workings of how we perceive our bodies as actually being more than just the flesh on our bones. Who knows? Maybe you too will discover how your body maps have been altered over the years. I know I have.
28 von 31 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
No bibliography. 16. September 2010
Von Anax Andron - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
As far as popular science books go, this is a stellar exemplar. The other reviewers have done a great job of presenting the merits and demerits of the book. Thus, I can present little more about its quality, which is to be admired. However, I must weigh in on a topic that is of some importance, which also explains the reason for my 3 stars. Popular science books are an extension of the scientific literature. For all intents and purposes, popular science books are literature reviews of the relevant research. Just as no research paper would be accepted by an academic journal without a bibliography, no popular science book should be accepted without a bibliography. One can hope that I just got a defective copy, one that lacked the bibliography. However, I suspect the odds are against that. So, reader, be warned; this book does not cite all it's sources.
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