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The Private Life of the Brain: Emotions, Consciousness, and the Secret of the Self (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – Mai 2000

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What's going on in there? One of the great scientific and philosophical mysteries is how a few pounds of wet, salty cobwebs can give rise to the rich experience that we call consciousness. Oxford neuroscientist Susan Greenfield peers inside the dimly lit skull to show us what she thinks is going on in The Private Life of the Brain. Greenfield has a facility for explaining tricky scientific concepts in language that can engage any reader. She presents the basics of contemporary thought on consciousness as they relate to her own theory, which involves a continuum of experience between sensual, emotional grounding in the surrounding world and rational, cognitive withdrawal into mental life. Arguing from a wide range of animal and human research, and drawing on the work of philosophers John Searle and Daniel Dennett, she makes her case compellingly but gently, granting that other theories might also hold in this still-uncharted territory. Looking in depth at depression, drug use, and fear, Greenfield shows how each is explained by her continuum theory and how each relates to the life of the human organism as a whole. Could it be true that as our minds work harder, our hearts lose some feeling, and vice versa? It's an intriguing, thought-provoking idea, one that alone makes The Private Life of the Brain essential reading for minds seeking self-enlightenment. --Rob Lightner

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With great originality, celebrated neuroscientist Susan A. Greenfield shows that states of abandon - intensely felt experiences of pleasure, exhilaration, joy and pain - in fact draw us to the centre of the mind. Between emotion and the mind there is no dichotomy, but rather a continuum in which we create the self. With passion and learning, Susan Greenfield addresses the most fascinating aspects of contemporary neuroscience, revealing exactly what happens to the brain when we are in the throes of an intense experience. How do drugs act on the brain? How might an understanding of the science of emotion help us better understand schizophrenia and depression? What is the relationship between pleasure and fear? Why is it impossible to maintain a state of high arousal for more than a brief period? Challenging a series of common assumptions about the relationship between emotion and the brain, Susan Greenfield finally asks whether "mind-blowing" experiences might in fact form the basis of consciousness. Informed by the most recent neuroscience, "The Private Life of the Brain" develops new models with which to answer these questions. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This is excellent science writing. Many complex ideas are made understandable through clear analogies, while clearly pointing out the limitations of those analogies.
The author tries to describe how brain states relate to states of experience; by finding common ground between many extreme experiences. Her elegant (if not original) thesis is that patterns of connectivity between massive numbers of neurons determine our overall state of consciousness. States vary, according to this theory, by how large the interconnected clusters of neurons are, and how rapidly they turnover from one cluster to another. Neuroses and depression reflect a kind of stuckness in wide scale static networks of associations. States of intense sensation all involve "losing our mind" in the sense of dismantling these widespread networks and replacing them with many small networks that rapidly switch from one to another, keeping us trapped in the here and now.
We peer into the life of drug addicts, the fearful, the schizophrenic, and small children, to find some remarkable similarities in their experience. Then we see how the experience is so different for the depressed and those in pain. By comparing these extremes, and comparing the extremes to the way we normally feel, the authors' thesis begins to come to life.
This is a fascinating attempt at a framework for relating brain states and states of consciousness that has a lot of potential, but is clearly still a skeleton. It does, however, make a number of testable predictions discussed in the final chapters, which distinguish this book still further from the usual speculations about how the brain produces conscious experience.
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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This is a must for those wanting to add an up-to-date and readable book containing 'mind' or 'brain' in the title to their collection. Greenfield argues for consciousness to be more than mind, and proposes that we look to our emotional life for clues as to its emergence and continuity. In a crude nutshell, we are asked to believe that "the interaction between body and brain IS consciousness" and that whereas the mind needs the brain (alone ?), consciousness requires the neuronal brain plus its modulatory interaction with the hormonal system(s) of the body as a whole. (i.e., the brain is necessary, but not sufficient to produce consciousness).
In a little more detail, although this volume provides the reader with an attempt to distinguish mind from consciousness, we are at the same time given a model continuum with 'emotion' at one end and 'mind' at the other; the goal of neuroscience (of whatever flavour its researcher) being to uncover the 'Rosetta Stone' of the physical brain Vs emotion/consciousness. Starting with the thesis that emotions are suppressed by logic and reason, we are taken on a tour of metaphysical models of mind-brain coexistence and a useful series of historical analogies of self-hood persistence are drawn from the literature. What an agent does (behaviourally) is rightly in my view distinguished from what it might think or understand (concerning its situation), but Greenfield pushes for the further dependence upon consciousness to underly true understanding. What of consciousness itself, here as elswhere in the book, there is little new.
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