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The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  316 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
About the Author

Born in 1956 in the American Midwest, Christof Koch grew up in Holland, Germany, Canada, and Morocco, where he graduated from the Lycée Descartes in 1974. He studied physics and philosophy at the University of Tübingen in Germany and was awarded his Ph.D. in biophysics in 1982. He is now the Lois and Victor Troendle Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Bio

Hardcover, 429 pages
Published December 14th 2004 by Roberts & Company Publishers (first published 2004)
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Melee Farr
Jun 15, 2007 Melee Farr rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who needs to be humbled.
This was the longest 3-month read of my life. I did finish the bastard, though. If you want to enjoy it, read chapter 1, then skip to 9. The concept is fascinating: where is the seat of consciousness in the brain, and what, exactly, is consciousness - along with a little exploration in what consciousness is for. The execution was beastly. Even with a background in anatomy, I had no idea where the author was going with about half of the book, and was pretty pissed at him when I figured it out "Yo ...more
Feb 23, 2010 DJ rated it really liked it
Shelves: brain, dad
Until recently, those interested in learning about consciousness have had just three options: (1) introspection (informative but deceiving), (2) books by philosophers (interesting but completely speculative), and (3) books by crazies (the majority of the literature on consciousness). Consciousness has long been a naughty word in science, but ho! No longer! While the "hard problem" of exactly why phenomenological states arise from the collective squirts of neurotransmitters washing across your br ...more
Mar 10, 2013 Brian rated it liked it
(3.0) Worthy goal, not sure I got much out of the book though

A noble goal: to find the neural correlate of consciousness (NCC), the network of neurons to point to as where perception 'happens'. To a neuroscientist, this is probably a tremendous amount of review. To a non-neuroscientist, probably way more neurobio than can be absorbed. But he does well to try to rule out places where consciousness cannot be (in vision, retina, V1, for example), and hints at where it might be (in vision, inferotem
Ramkumar Ramachandra
Jan 08, 2012 Ramkumar Ramachandra rated it really liked it
This is THE book on consciousness if you're looking for a purely neurobiological approach. The picture is still very incomplete: Koch sticks to making claims based on hard scientific evidence, and makes no assumptions. If you don't mind using a bit of analytical philosophy to make the jump and build the entire picture, I'd recommend Metzinger's "Being No One".

Light entertaining read.
Billie Pritchett
Christof Koch's Quest for Consciousness is intended for lay audiences, but it is still a highly technical book, about the neurobiological approach to investigating consciousness. The book is at turns highly readable and at other other turns abstruse in its use of neuroanatomical descriptions of brain regions and processes. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable to read. Koch argues that consciousness, or awareness, is an emergent property of the nervous system, important for planning and choosing among ...more
David Olmsted
Apr 29, 2012 David Olmsted rated it really liked it
Shelves: neuroscience
Because this book brings in real neuroscience data it is the best book on consciousness yet published. Consciousness is a combination of perception and conscious sensations called qualia, two different phenomena. Qualia is why we see the color blue instead of just blindly react to some neural signals as would zombies (we can do this up to a point in a phenomena called blind-sight which involves a primitive non-cortical neural pathway). One can have qualia without perception but not vice-versa as ...more
May 11, 2008 Erin rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those wondering how the brain creates "consciousness"
If I could recommend just one book on a neuroscientific approach to consciousness, this would be it. But don't expect any clear answers to be spelled out for you – we’re not there yet. In particular, Koch does not provide the reader with anything approaching a satisfying explanation of how subjectivity can arise from a physical system.
Sep 08, 2008 Katy added it
Meant to be reviewed for my senior thesis. heh. This is the continuation of work Koch did with Francis Crick on the nature of the workings of the human mind.

Absolutely fascinating.
koch worked with crick on neurobiology and the consciousness of vision. they want to define and ncc, a minimal neuronal correlate of consciousness. ok book, but not the best in the field.
Apr 25, 2009 Huyen rated it liked it
Shelves: biology-brain
misleading title, should be Vision and Consciousness or something like that. quite dry and technical, but informative and occasionally very interesting.
Sep 13, 2011 Leah marked it as to-read
Read an article in SciAm, was really looking for his upcoming book, but it's not in the database and I'm on mobile.
M.D. Backes
Nov 10, 2008 M.D. Backes rated it it was amazing
By far, my favorite book on brain studies. Focuses on the neural correlates of consciousness.
Mar 15, 2007 Jafar rated it liked it
So much neurobiology that the quest for consciousness gets lost in it.
Jun 23, 2008 Chadfogg rated it really liked it
He never gives up. Nice intro to stages of occipital lobe.
Nick Black
Feb 25, 2010 Nick Black marked it as to-read
Recommended to Nick by: DJ
Shelves: to-acquire
looks like a good place to start!
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