“The exercise content and evaluations in this book are outstanding. Liz “Fitness For Dummies is a real rarity: a f PHANTOMS IN THE BRAIN. 𝗣𝗗𝗙 | Question the assumption that the adult brain is “hard wired” After amputation many people experience vivid sensations of the body part. 𝗣𝗗𝗙 | On Jan 9, , Oliver Turnbull and others published Phantoms in the Brain: Human Nature and the Architecture of the Mind.
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pain or sensory tracts in the spinal cord, destroying pain centers in the brain itself. But all too . beautifully readable book Phantoms in the Brain. It is one of the. Phantoms in the brain. Question the assumption that the adult brain is “hard wired”. After amputation many people experience vivid sensations of the body part. DOI: / Phantoms in the brain: A neuroscience view of social self repair using the psychodramatic method. Phantoms in the brain.
And as Crick once said: "There is no scientific study more vital to man than the study of his own brain. Our entire view of the universe depends on it. The phenomena open to our observation do not contradict this conclusion or conflict with it. Rather they lead us by the hand and compel us to believe that the animate is born, as I maintain, of the insentient. Ramachandran has run with The Astonishing Hypothesis in ways like no other pop-science writer has—with the possible exception of Oliver Sacks who writes a wonderful intro to this book, by the way.
The brain is made up of one hundred billion nerve cells or "neurons" which is the basic structural and functional units of the nervous system. Each neuron makes something like a thousand to ten thousand contacts with other neurons and these points of contact are called synapses where exchange of information occurs.
And based on this information, someone has calculated that the number of possible permutations and combinations of brain activity, in other words the numbers of brain states, exceeds the number of elementary particles in the known universe. He accomplishes this in spades.
He really captures the childlike wonder and openness to evidentiary trajectories and discovery that is an ideal in science. He often compares his work to that of his boyhood hero Sherlock Holmes. Basically, this is the purest antidote to dry, technical writing, and it seems to sacrifice none of the scientific rigor in the process.
At many points I found my jaw dropping further than I thought possible as each page went by. Plus, some should be left for you potential readers to happily find on your own and what I summarize is extremely brief and surface-level anyway.
Most people know what this phenomenon consists of: a person loses a body part, most often some section of their arm or leg or the whole thing though he also mentions rarer instances of phantom penises and phantom breasts and they begin to have very, very vivid sensations that the limb is still there.
Commonly, people have the painful sensation that their phantom hand is clenched as tight as can be, to cite one of many examples. Rama discovered a simple and ingenious way to sooth and eventually eliminate these pains. He set up a box with a mirror in it that looks like this: When he first tried this out on a person who was in agonizing pain they immediately felt a torrent of relief--the phantom limb sufferer described it as an instantaneous and entirely vivid sensation of being able to finally unclench his excrusiatingly painful clenched phantom fist, immediately.
The basic idea is that the brain is tricked into believing that that missing limb is present and when the actual remaining limb moves it gives the equally vivid sensation that the phantom limb is moving in that same willful way.
This exercise is done and as time goes on it becomes less and less necessary as the phantom pains become less and less frequent.
He cracks a great joke about being the first person to ever amputate a phantom limb. Capgras syndrome is when a person begins to think that people they know and recognize perfectly well are imposters.
If you have interest in this phenomenon, I believe this is a worthwhile book to own.
Q How do you eat an elephant? A One bite at a time. Q How do you explain a system that is complex, convoluted and adaptive. A Test small bites of stimulus and reaction to confirm or contradict your hypothesis. Ramachandran and Blakeslee created this delightful book using humor, logic and simple tests to illuminate how the brain works and doesn't work. Readers are even invited to run their own test at home to confirm Rama's his term conclusions. Why does an amputee deny her left arm is missing or her paralyzed arm belongs to her brother?
Such examples offer fertile areas to explore to find what specific brain cells seem related to such behavior. Could we alter the perception of a missing arm using mirrors?
The answer is "yes" and by doing so we learn a little more about our brain's adaptivity. So what's going on when a person can square a fifteen digit number as fast as he can say the answer? While these small bites offer small answers, many such bites shed light on big answers. It's that good. Like Oliver Sacks, Ramachandran tells of some startling neurological insights he's gained by examining unusual cases.
These pages contain summary case histories of individuals who can't recognize faces - of individuals who deny that various body parts belong to them - of individuals who experience vivid hallucinations. 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 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. If you are not bothered by such things but are enthusiastic about how things work, this then is again a wonderful reading on the nature and substance of one of the most complex phenomena in this Universe - the human brain. I gave 4 instead of 5 stars because the last few chapters do not make their case as clearly or strongly as the rest of the book does.
In addition, even though the author touches on the subject of spirituality, god, consciousness, and its probably connections to the brain structure and experience, he does not mention anything about simple practices such as meditation and deep breathing and its influence on the brain. I did not expect these to be covered in the book but since the author ventured out of what I did expect and towards this field, it would have been good to see something mentioned to this effect.
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