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Archive for 'cognitive science'

new book – ‘Looking Inside the Brain: The Power of Neuroimaging’ by Denis Le Bihan

November 22, 2014

Looking Inside the Brain

Looking Inside the Brain: The Power of Neuroimaging by Denis Le Bihan, tr. by Teresa Lavender Fagan (Princeton University Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

It is now possible to witness human brain activity while we are talking, reading, or thinking, thanks to revolutionary neuroimaging techniques like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These groundbreaking advances have opened infinite fields of investigation–into such areas as musical perception, brain development in utero, and faulty brain connections leading to psychiatric disorders–and have raised unprecedented ethical issues. In Looking Inside the Brain, one of the leading pioneers of the field, Denis Le Bihan, offers an engaging account of the sophisticated interdisciplinary research in physics, neuroscience, and medicine that have led to the remarkable neuroimaging methods that give us a detailed look into the human brain.

Introducing neurological anatomy and physiology, Le Bihan walks readers through the historical evolution of imaging technology–from the x-ray and CT scan to the PET scan and MRI–and he explains how neuroimaging uncovers afflictions like stroke or cancer and the workings of higher-order brain activities, such as language skills. Le Bihan also takes readers on a behind-the-scenes journey through NeuroSpin, his state-of-the-art neuroimaging laboratory, and goes over the cutting-edge scanning devices currently being developed. Considering what we see when we look at brain images, Le Bihan weighs what might be revealed about our thoughts and unconscious, and discusses how far this technology might go in the future.

Beautifully illustrated in color, Looking Inside the Brain presents the trailblazing story of the scanning techniques that provide keys to previously unimagined knowledge of our brains and our selves.

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new book – ‘The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World’s Leading Neuroscientists’ ed. by Gary Marcus and Jeremy Freeman

November 18, 2014

The Future of the Brain

The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World’s Leading Neuroscientists ed. by Gary Marcus and Jeremy Freeman (Princeton University Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

Including a chapter by 2014 Nobel laureates May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser

An unprecedented look at the quest to unravel the mysteries of the human brain, The Future of the Brain takes readers to the absolute frontiers of science. Original essays by leading researchers such as Christof Koch, George Church, Olaf Sporns, and May-Britt and Edvard Moser describe the spectacular technological advances that will enable us to map the more than eighty-five billion neurons in the brain, as well as the challenges that lie ahead in understanding the anticipated deluge of data and the prospects for building working simulations of the human brain. A must-read for anyone trying to understand ambitious new research programs such as the Obama administration’s BRAIN Initiative and the European Union’s Human Brain Project, The Future of the Brain sheds light on the breathtaking implications of brain science for medicine, psychiatry, and even human consciousness itself.

Contributors include: Misha Ahrens, Ned Block, Matteo Carandini, George Church, John Donoghue, Chris Eliasmith, Simon Fisher, Mike Hawrylycz, Sean Hill, Christof Koch, Leah Krubitzer, Michel Maharbiz, Kevin Mitchell, Edvard Moser, May-Britt Moser, David Poeppel, Krishna Shenoy, Olaf Sporns, Anthony Zador.

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new book – ‘Flicker: Your Brain on Movies’ by Jeffrey Zacks

November 17, 2014

Flicker

Flicker: Your Brain on Movies by Jeffrey Zacks (Oxford University Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk)

How is it that a patch of flickering light on a wall can produce experiences that engage our imaginations and can feel totally real? From the vertigo of a skydive to the emotional charge of an unexpected victory or defeat, movies give us some of our most vivid experiences and lasting memories. They reshape our emotions and worldviews–but why?

In Flicker, Jeff Zacks delves into the history of cinema and the latest research to explain what happens in your head when you sit down in the theatre and the lights go out. Some of the questions Flicker answers: Why do we flinch when Rocky takes a punch in Sylvester Stallone’s movies, duck when the jet careens towards the tower in Airplane!, and tap our toes to the dance numbers in Chicago or Moulin Rouge? Why do so many of us cry at the movies? What’s the difference between what happened in a movie and what happened in real life–and can we always tell the difference? To answer these questions and more, Flicker gives us an engaging, fast-paced look at the mind’s fascinating relationship with the silver screen.

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See also: Book website

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new book – ‘Great Myths of the Brain’ by Christian Jarrett

November 12, 2014

Great Myths of the Brain

Great Myths of the Brain by Christian Jarrett (Wiley Blackwell, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

Great Myths of the Brain introduces readers to the field of neuroscience by examining popular myths about the human brain. Explores commonly-held myths of the brain through the lens of scientific research, backing up claims with studies and other evidence from the literature Looks at enduring myths such as “Do we only use 10% of our brain?”, “Pregnant women lose their mind”, “Right-brained people are more creative” and many more. Delves into myths relating to specific brain disorders, including epilepsy, autism, dementia, and others Written engagingly and accessibly for students and lay readers alike, providing a unique introduction to the study of the brain Teaches readers how to spot neuro hype and neuro-nonsense claims in the media.

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See also: Author’s website

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new book – ‘Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy’ by Evan Thompson

November 11, 2014

Waking, Dreaming, Being

Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy by Evan Thompson (Columbia University Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

A renowned philosopher of the mind, also known for his groundbreaking work on Buddhism and cognitive science, Evan Thompson combines the latest neuroscience research on sleep, dreaming, and meditation with Indian and Western philosophy of the mind, casting new light on the self and its relation to the brain.

Thompson shows how the self is a changing process, not a static thing. When we are awake we identify with our body, but if we let our mind wander or daydream, we project a mentally imagined self into the remembered past or anticipated future. As we fall asleep, the impression of being a bounded self distinct from the world dissolves, but the self reappears in the dream state. If we have a lucid dream, we no longer identify only with the self within the dream. Our sense of self now includes our dreaming self, the “I” as dreamer. Finally, as we meditate — either in the waking state or in a lucid dream — we can observe whatever images or thoughts arise and how we tend to identify with them as “me.” We can also experience sheer awareness itself, distinct from the changing contents that make up our image of the self.

Contemplative traditions say that we can learn to let go of the self, so that when we die we can witness the dissolution of the self with equanimity. Thompson weaves together neuroscience, philosophy, and personal narrative to depict these transformations, adding uncommon depth to life’s profound questions. Contemplative experience comes to illuminate scientific findings, and scientific evidence enriches the vast knowledge acquired by contemplatives.

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See also: Author’s website, Book on Facebook

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