- Capa comum: 352 páginas
- Editora: William Morrow & Company (18 de agosto de 1999)
- Idioma: Inglês
- ISBN-10: 0688172172
- ISBN-13: 978-0688172176
- Dimensões do produto: 15,6 x 2,2 x 23,5 cm
- Peso do produto: 612 g
- Lista de mais vendidos da Amazon: no. 64,860 em Livros (Conheça o Top 100 na categoria Livros)
Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind (Inglês) Capa Comum – 11 jul 2016
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Sobre o Autor
Sandra Blakeslee is an award-winning science writer for The New York Times. For the last ten years, her reporting specialty has been neuroscience. She is the coauthor, with Judith Wallerstein, Ph.D., of two books: the national bestseller Second Chances and The Good Marriage. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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Many of Ramachandran's breakthrough theories though are based on his treatment of individuals who suffered from phantom pain after an amputation. In the course of probing this puzzling phenomenon, Ramachandran hit upon some ideas that have far-reaching implications. Studying this phenomenon allowed him to advance new theories about the way stimuli are received and mapped in the brain.
When a leg is amputated, the area of the brain that would normally register sense impressions from it is left without any incoming stimuli. That part of the brain sits expectant and hungry for some incoming messages. Neural connections in adjacent areas of the brain then sometimes expand, filling in the information vacuum. Those adjacent areas are ordinarily dedicated to registering sensation from unrelated parts of the body, such as the face. So when anyone touches the amputee's face, that sensation might be amplified and experienced as severe pain in a leg that is no longer there.
Ramachandran believes that this tendency of the brain to adapt and "fill-in" might be at the root of many neural dysfunctions. When a person loses his sight in a part of his visual field, surrounding neurons might elaborate and reach in to fill the void. When a person loses some aspect of neuronal processing that has to do with body image, other neurons from areas of adjacent functioning might reach in to offer sensation input. The borrowed processing mechanism doesn't always fit its functioning into a "normal," coherent sense of the world though. The result can be strange distortions of perception.
These ideas might explain all sorts of human folly - such as fetishes. Specifically, Ramachandran suggests that foot fetishes might arise because the sensation processing areas devoted to the feet and to the genitals typically lie adjacent to each other in the brain. Similarly, various kinds of body dysmorphic disorders, such as anorexia, might be traced to such take-overs.
This book was written in 1998. Ramachandran suggested many experiments that could be made to test his theories. I wonder how many have been done in the interim? I'm eager to check out any of his more recent writings to get updates on some of these questions.
He writes in an accessible style. What's more, he suggests a number of very simple, non-invasive techniques that people might experiment with to relieve themselves or family members of dangerous delusions. For example, he suggests spritzing cold water into the left ear of anorexics; he suggests using mirrors to help "neglect" patients recover an awareness of both sides of their body and of their environment.
The 35 pages of small-print footnotes at the end of the book might appear to be a chore that you'd be inclined to skip. But they serve as a good summary of the main text, and also contain many fascinating suggestions for further experiments that could either confirm or disprove the important ideas in this book.
Overall, this book is a real brain-teaser.
I love the style of writing. It is fast paced and never boring, even though it is about medical issues, it still reads like "Sherlock Holmes" wrote it... this is Dr. Ramachandran's nick name. There are case stories in this book that will keep you in cocktail chatter for months. Every page is a little more incredible than the previous one. All is written for the lay reader, without condescension. Highly recommended and just be warned--it is hard to put it down.
In the preface, he says, "When writing a popular book, professional scientists always have to walk a tightrope between making the book intelligible to the general reader, on the one hand, and avoiding oversimplification, on the other, so that experts are not annoyed." Maybe the instantly cured clubbed fingers fit into this category. He also says, "Some of the cases I describe are really composites of several patients, including classics in the medical literature." Perhaps this explains it.
Possibly it was the journalist, Blakeslee, who decided to make the situation somewhat more interesting, but then one has to consider that other conclusions may be a little enhanced.
Be that as it may, this book presents remarkable data. It reads like a detective story and describes an empathetic doctor who has lots of rapport with his patients as he tries to help them deal with their unique problems. The book gives an excellent review of brain anatomy and function. The first 20 pages summarizes aspects of the scientific method so well, I was enthralled. As I kept reading, I found out that someone with a keen mind using curiosity, simple observations, and prop-like equipment could still uncover new scientific data.
Other reviewers have eloquently described the contents, and I urge you to read them. Despite my criticism, this book deserves a "5", and should add to anyone's knowledge about consciousness and how the mind works.