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The Tell-Tale Brain: Unlocking the Mystery of Human Nature [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

V. S. Ramachandran
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9. Februar 2012

John, aged sixty, suffered a stroke and recovered fully, except in one respect: although he can see perfectly, he can no longer recognise faces, even his own reflection in a mirror.

Whenever Francesca touches a particular texture, she experiences a vivid emotion: denim = extreme sadness; wax = embarrassment; orange peel = shock.

Jimmie, whose left arm was recently amputated, can still feel it - and it's itchy.

Our brains are the most enchanting and complex things in the known universe - but what happens when they go wrong? Dr V. S. Ramachandran, 'the Sherlock Holmes of brain science' and one of the world's leading neuroscientists, has spent a lifetime working with patients who suffer from rare and baffling brain conditions. In The Tell-Tale Brain, he tells their stories, and explores what they reveal about the greatest mystery of them all: how our minds work, and what makes each of us so uniquely human.

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  • Taschenbuch: 384 Seiten
  • Verlag: Windmill Books (9. Februar 2012)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0099537591
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099537595
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13,2 x 19,6 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 298.359 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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"Ramachandran is a latter-day Marco Polo" (Richard Dawkins)

"A profoundly intriguing and compelling guide to the intricacies of the human brain." (Oliver Sachs)

"Excellent ... I cannot imagine a better account of the sweep of contemporary neuroscience" (Financial Times)

"A leader in his field and an ingenious and tireless researcher. This is the best book of its kind that I have come across" (New York Review of Books)

"A masterpiece. The best of its kind and beautifully crafted." (Allan Snyder, FRS, Director of the Centre for the Mind)


A groundbreaking book about what we learn about human nature when the brain goes wrong, by the world's most exciting brain scientist.

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Buchdeckel | Copyright | Inhaltsverzeichnis | Auszug | Stichwortverzeichnis | Rückseite
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Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Ramachadran is one of the greatest neuroscientists of our Era, with an amazing talent in writing in an entertaining and insightful way! Reading this book was a pure joy, I learned so much and there are even little visual tests the reader can do, which help in homing in the messages!
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Nett, aber unverbindlich Herr Professor. 4. April 2011
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Ein weiteres Buch zur modernen Hirnforschung. Und mal wieder sehr unterhaltsam geschrieben. Denn der Herr Professor weiss zu unterhalten. Wer sein Gesamtwerk kennt, liebt die Mischung aus Folklore und Forschungsfakten. Seine aus der Not geborenen "einfachen" Versuchsreihen der frühen Jahre sind legendär.
Da ihm anscheinend aber langsam die Themen ausgehen, versucht er nun in einem Rundumschlag etablierte Gesellschaftsstrukturen, Kunst-Erkennung und Bewertung und viele soziale Verhaltensweisen durch spezifische Eigenheiten und Defizite der Gehirnfunktionen zu erläutern. Dieses Vorhaben muss rein wissenschaftlich gesehen scheitern. Und so bleibt der Professor die Belege für seine Behauptungen natürlich schuldig. Aber ihm gelingen auf philosophischer Ebene durchaus bemerkenswerte Denkansätze.
Fazit: Sie sollten viel Zeit mitbringen um dieses Buch zu lesen, denn immer wieder gelingt es dem Autor den Leser in Gedankenmodelle zu verstricken und seine Wahrnehmung zu trüben oder einfach nur eine falsche Fährte zu legen. Nach dem Motto: Die Realität ist eigentlich nur Illusion.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.2 von 5 Sternen  98 Rezensionen
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Ramachandran Raises the Bar - Yet Again! 3. Januar 2011
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
The preeminent neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran has, without a doubt, raised the bar in this, his newest book, The Tell-Tale Brain. He states in the preface, "Readers who have assiduously followed my whole oeuvre over the years will recognize some of the case histories that I presented in my previous books, Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind and A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness: From Impostor Poodles to Purple Numbers. These same readers will be pleased to see that I have new things to say about even my earlier findings and observations. Brain science has advanced at an astonishing pace over the past fifteen years, lending fresh perspectives on - well, just about everything. After decades of floundering in the shadow of the "hard" sciences, the age of neuroscience has truly dawned, and this rapid progress has directed and enriched my own work." And what an enriching book this is!

In a nutshell, what Ramachandran does is to discover how the normal brain works by studying individuals with abnormal neurological conditions. In this respect, his books are similar to Oliver Sacks (The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales and The Mind's Eye). Some of the disorders Ramachandran discusses are: Agnosia, Anosognosia, Autism, Capgras Syndrome, Cotard Syndrome, and Synesthesia, to name a few. However, one of the finest things about Ramachandran's book is that this doesn't account for everything in the book; it's not simply Ramachandran rolling out one bizarre disorder after another. He hits the subject matter from every angle - anatomically, evolutionarily, psychologically, and philosophically. It's exceedingly evident that Ramachandran knows all of the topics - inside-and-out - in regards to mind, brain, and consciousness. And still, the writing was never over my head. It was just as Ramachandran said it would be, "I presume some degree of interest in science and curiosity about human nature, but I do not presume any sort of formal scientific background or even familiarity with my previous works. I hope this book proves instructive and inspiring to students of all levels and backgrounds, to colleagues in other disciplines, and to lay readers with no personal or professional stake in these topics."

Ramachandran states in the Epilogue, "One of the major themes in the book - whether talking about body image, mirror neurons, language evolution, or autism - has been the question of how your inner self interacts with the world (including the social world) while at the same time maintaining its privacy. The curious reciprocity between self and others is especially well developed in humans and probably exists only in rudimentary form in the great apes. I have suggested that many types of mental illness may result from derangements in this equilibrium. Understanding such disorders may pave the way not only for solving the abstract (or should I say philosophical) problem of the self at a theoretical level, but also for treating mental illness."

In conclusion, I strongly recommend reading this book. The writing is great, the style is flawless, and Ramachandran's self deprecating humor really keeps the material lively. Every issue in contemporary Mind/Brain/Consciousness literature has been addressed in one way or another and I think everyone would have something to gain from reading it. I would put this book right on par with Antonio Damasio's, Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain, and Paul Nunez's, Brain, Mind, and the Structure of Reality. Along with V.S. Ramachandran, these men, each in his own way, is pointing the way for the entire Neuroscientific community..."The question of how neurons encode meaning and evoke all the semantic associations of an object is the holy grail of neuroscience, whether you are studying memory, perception, art, or consciousness." Ramachandran's book is not to be missed!
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4.0 von 5 Sternen There's definitely an "I" in Ramachandran 24. März 2011
Von D. Eigenvector - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
V.S. Ramachandran is a genius, a modern wizard of neuroscience, the foremost pioneer - the Galileo - of neurocognition. How do I know this? Well, it's not just because it says so on the back cover. No, I have an even more reliable source - Ramachandran himself! This is an interesting book and Ramachandran really is quite a clever fellow. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to realize that his cleverness is readily apparent and not something of which the reader needs to be continuously reminded. Known for gleaning important new insights from simple experiments and ideas, he often leaves the impression that his methods are sometimes a bit too simple. For example, he describes a "three boxes experiment" and speculates freely and wildly about how this experiment will help explain the evolution of language. He leaves us hanging by saying mysteriously: "The three boxes experiment has not been done yet." Well... why the hell not? We're not talking Einstein here, with predictions that had to wait until technology had sufficiently advanced to be checked. No, we're talking about watching how people stack three boxes in order to reach a high-hanging reward. One might expect "a latter-day Marco Polo" such as Ramachandran to be getting the job done in the lab, but he seems content to toss ideas into the air and wait for others to actually perform the experiments, at which point he'll be poised and ready to swoop in to take his fair share of the credit. In this same chapter, he tells how a postdoc and he suggested that apraxia is a disorder related to mirror neurons. The next sentence reads: "Paul and I opened a bottle to celebrate having clinched the diagnosis." Huh?? Surely - hopefully? - there was quite a bit of hard work between the hypothesis and "clinching the diagnosis" but he doesn't bother telling the story.

Fortunately, it's fairly easy to navigate around the ego eruptions and bad jokes to enjoy Ramachandran's clear and insightful writing. There's lots of positive things to say about this book, as other reviewers have noted. Bouba kiki!
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Snarky but Satisfying 11. Dezember 2012
Von kellerbellerful - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
V.S. Ramachandran owns a variety of distinctions. He is director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, Distinguished Professor at the University of California, San Diego, and Adjunct Professor of Biology at the Salk Institute. He has written or co-written a number of popular-science works including Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind, The Encyclopedia of the Human Brain, and A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness: From Impostor Poodles to Purple Numbers. His most recent work is The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes us Human. This book, rehashes much of the material discussed in his previous work, Phantoms of the Brain, but also presents many new and untested ideas and hypotheses. Despite a few off-color remarks that are peppered throughout the work, and some wild assumptions that are used to support untested hypotheses, The Tell Tale Brain proved to be a satisfying and entertaining read. It presents tough material on a very wide spectrum of topics in a thorough and easy to read manner.

A majority of fault found within The Tell Tale Brain can be attributed to personality. Besides a general haughty overtone that can be easily explained by his success, Ramachandran makes a few snide remarks in reference to women, religion and politics throughout the book that are unwarranted. They serve only as insults, and have no purpose in supporting the subject of the book. Another weakness in Ramachandran's writing is oversimplification of the material. This can be justified by recalling the intended purpose of the book, and remembering that it is difficult to provide a satisfying explanation without getting too technical for a wide audience. However, defending the book in this manner does not stop the reader from wondering whether they are sitting for story time, or reading something of substance. Additionally, at many times throughout the book it seems as though Ramachandran uses the shield of popular science writing to make assumptions with abandon. It seems as though he has forgotten where his expertise lies. Many of his hypotheses, especially in the sections about beauty and aesthetics are based in assumptions that quickly raise objections. In figure 7.5 of the book, Ramachandran presents two images, and designates one to be more aesthetically pleasing. He gives no reference to an authority on art, or even a survey of popular opinion. It can be assumed that this judgment of artistic value is based only on his authority and that he believes that his scientific reputation renders him an art authority. Unfortunately the reader is unable to further entertain Ramachandran's speculations on these topics because of a disagreement over the extent of his expertise. Ramachandran defends himself from further criticism against the wild assumptions in his later chapters by acknowledging several times that much content of these chapters is speculative. Despite being a little flighty and a little insulting, the author's failures in art criticism and courtesy do not outweigh his scientific success. The Tell-Tale Brain remains a worthwhile read.

One of the greatest strengths of the book is its organization. The chapters are clearly separated by topic, and the information presented in the earlier chapters clearly builds a foundation to allow for better understanding of the content in the later chapters.

The first chapter focuses on phantom limbs, or sensation and pain that amputees often feel in their removed limbs. It also addresses plasticity, or the brain's ability to change. The next chapter discusses the way the brain processes visual information with a specific focus on how humans process this information differently from other animals. Chapter three discusses synesthesia, a phenomenon where sensory information is mixed. The following chapter introduces mirror neurons. These are neurons that allow humans to adopt another's point of view, and may have been a primary factor in the development of culture. The fifth chapter discusses the possibilities that autism is partially a result of dysfunctional mirror neurons. The sixth chapter addresses language, and the role mirror neurons and other factors may have played in its development. The seventh and eighth chapters address beauty. Chapter seven especially focuses on the ways our concept of beauty could have evolved and discusses two of nine laws of aesthetics that Ramachandran produces. Chapter eight discusses the remaining laws of aesthetics. The final chapter of the book considers the daunting concept of self-awareness.

Besides the nine chapters of the book, the volume has an introduction that includes Ramachandran's initial discussion of human uniqueness, a glimpse of the fascinating case studies discussed throughout the book and an overview of brain anatomy. The work also includes an epilogue which serves to unify the work, and a helpful glossary of terms. The introduction, epilogue, and glossary play a large role in the organizational strength of the book. They serve as a helpful reference throughout the reading of the book, and prevent much of the discussion from becoming a confusing jumble of words.

In his discussion throughout the work, Ramachandran uses interesting case studies to illustrate how functions can be localized in the brain. Additionally, in his discussion of each of these areas, Ramachandran pays special attention to the evolutionary development of the structures and functions involved. He imparts the idea that evolutionary development of the brain structure is central to truly understanding the function. In addition to focus on evolution, Ramachandran centers almost repetitively on the idea that humans are unique. He constantly refutes the idea that humans are "just another species of ape," and stresses the astonishing intellectual differences that arise between humans and other primates as a result of small differences in brain structure.

Another strength of the book is the background information provided for each chapter. Ramachandran is usually careful to give credit where it is due and cites the discoveries and innovations made by various scientists as the basis for much of his work. In addition, Ramachandran is careful to provide clear background information to a topic where it is needed. The chapter on the development of language is a particularly good example of this. Consistent with his theme of human uniqueness, Ramachandran is careful to go into detail to describe what precisely it is that makes human language different from that of other animals. Furthermore, he clearly describes the structure of language, and its many facets and thoroughly introduces the ground-breaking work done by pioneers in the field of linguistics. He then builds on this groundwork to discuss how language could have evolved, and how its different functions are believed to interact within the brain.

All in all, The Tell Tale Brain is a good introduction to the field of neuroscience. It covers various topics in which significant ground has been gained, and it addresses topics where hardly any groundwork has been laid. It does all of these things in a casual tone that still challenges the reader to wonder about the vast complexities of the brain. For these reasons, it earns 4/5 stars.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen The Tell-tale Brain 21. Januar 2011
Von peterg - Veröffentlicht auf
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A well written and very readable book by the "Master" of neuro-science. However there is a lot of repetition of material previously published by the Author which detracts from its overall attraction. Nevertheless recommended reading - with patience because old material does get some up dating.
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2.0 von 5 Sternen Deja vu 11. Februar 2011
Von Marco Moriconi - Veröffentlicht auf
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I have read Phantoms in the Brain, which I think is one of the best popular books on neuroscience: informative, well-written,cutting edge research. All you want in one sigle package. I eagerly awaited for Ramachandran's next book, but I have to say that The Tell-Tale Brain is quite disappointing. I am still half way through and wonder: why did he write another version of his previous book? Does he want to place some of his (controversial) ideas in the popular mind?

I will finish reading it for sure, since I already bought it. But if you want to save some money, buy Phantoms in the Brain.
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