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Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain
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Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  2,368 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
From one of the most significant neuroscientists at work today, a pathbreaking investigation of a question that has confounded philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists for centuries: how is consciousness created?
Antonio Damasio has spent the past thirty years studying and writing about how the brain operates, and his work has garnered acclaim for its singular mel
Hardcover, 1st edition, 384 pages
Published November 9th 2010 by Pantheon (first published 2010)
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Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant, high-level look at the state of the science of consciousness that actually has the guts and the gravitas to hypothesize a model that doesn't smack into the mind-body problem. This is not for the first-time layperson, but if you know your Sacks and Ramachandran, this is the no-punches-pulled seminar I was always looking for.

There are so many little mindblowing tidbits in here I could talk for days, but the idea of sensory consciousness as an interlocking network of maps whos
Bob Nichols
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Damasio's overall theme is that the conscious self is the product of biological value (survival - technically, homeostatic balance - and well-being) that is defined by the body in terms of pleasure or pain. We do this by "mapping" our respective body states. The mapping is an awareness of body states and that awareness is embodied in our neural circuitry. It is done by the brain, but the thing mapped is the body and it's through this mapping that "the self comes to mind". That self, however, lon ...more
Donald Plugge
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it

Antonio Damasio is one of my favorite neurologist. Do many people have a favorite neurologist, perhaps that is weird in itself? Indeed, Damasio may even be considered a philosopher, of course, aren't we all. He frequently references the his favorite philosopher, Williams James and Baruch Spinoza.

Damasio explores his personal thoughts on how we have become conscious creatures in this living world of ours. He starts us out on a journey into the simple cell and relates each stage of development to
Mar 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
After reading this book for the second time, I am more impressed than ever that the author has described the working of the human brain better than anything I have ever read. As a neurologist familiar with what is known today about the anatomy and myriad connections of the brain, the author adds a theoretical framework, based on evolution and biology, that ties it all together. While I am sure that further refinement is to be made, this book and its theory of brain, mind and self is destined to ...more
Willem van der Scheun
Mostly a repetition of his previous books, Descartes Error and The Feeling of What Happens, without the anecdotes and with too much neuro-technical details. Damasio's basic claims from his first two books as I understood them (there is no rationality without emotions and there is no consciousness without a body to be conscious of) are repeated without any real additions. Damasio claims he has shifted the proto-self to a primordial self by adding feelings into the process of becoming a self in an ...more
Steven Williams
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the latest book that I have read by Antonio Damasio. The previous two books that I have read focused on feelings and the body. From his research in neurology he has come to the tentative conclusion that these two things figure prominently in the phenomenon of consciousness.

After giving the direction of his research into consciousness and the importance of biological regulation and value in chapters one and two in part one, he goes on to examining different components to consciousness. P
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed in this book. Damasio is a brilliant cognitive scientist, and I think his other books have been wonderful. This one is repetitive and lacked scientific depth. Damasio has championed the role of emotion in cognition and consciousness. He has feelings as a perception of neuronal monitoring of body states and developed its vital role as an evolutionary advance. Feelings therefore are analogous to vision as a perception of light and hearing as a perception of vibration. In this bo ...more
May 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Damasio addresses the age-old philosophical question of where the self resides, and where it comes from. Do we have something called a "soul" that is immaterial, and different from our physical beings? If not, where does the sense of self come from, and how does it differ from that of a sea slug, or a squirrel? Damasio spends a good deal of time very carefully building his "brief," like a lawyer, that if you put enough mental functions together, the vast majority of which we share with the rest ...more
Atila Iamarino
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Um livro denso e bem pesado do Damásio sobre como surge a consciência no cérebro. Ele passa por vários tipos de consciência que nos temos, do que é nosso (do nosso corpo) à consciência autobiográfica (nossas memórias). Mas acaba sendo um livro muito pesado e voltado para neuroanatomia, com muito pouco acessível a quem é de fora. Me peguei várias vezes perdendo a atenção e tendo que voltar no audiolivro, além de diminuir a velocidade, não é uma leitura leve.
Feb 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, science
i'm fascinated with all things being found out about neurological research. the brain is complex and the research tools are sophisticated; consequently, the knowledge being gathered is fascinating. but i remain a lay person. i hardly know all the terms that can be applied to the different sections of the brain and the way the brain operates. add in the concepts of self and of consciousness and i'm really a babe in the woods. a keenly interested babe but still far from knowing what i'm reading. s ...more
May 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is basically the updated edition of The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness, and I found it just as engaging. Damasio's multi-layered model of consciousness not only has an intuitive appeal, but also benefits from being empirically testable (and the tests that have been done to date seem to support, or at least not contradict, the model). His main conceptual additions in this book are his take on consciousness being a trait that was actively selecte ...more
Sep 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: grad-school
Antonio Damasio does an admirable job in hypothesizing neural/biological connections to the seemingly immeasurable existence of self and consciousness. I appreciated how he worked from the ground up, beginning with the development of a single cell organism and relating its basic properties to its more complex manifestations in the modern human. I was also fascinated by the concept of single cells exhibiting a “will to live”—a need for survival and adaptation that possibly became the foundation f ...more
Nazbanou Nozari
Jan 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Three stars only, not for the lack of ideas or content. On the contrary, the book is beaming with information, but that's probably the downfall of it too. (1) It's unclear who the target audience is supposed to be. It's way too detailed for a non-cog-neuroscientist, and in parts, way too obvious for a professional in the field. (2) It's not at all well organized. It feels like the book needs an editor. In its current form, it's a mash up of a whole bunch of ideas/findings/reports that Damasio ha ...more
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it

This textbook is so homogeneous and symmetrical when it comes to judge the pacemaker that governs the march of ideas. What is really distinguished is the author’s ability to spin the major questions about mind and consciousness around the axis of his theory, and he makes sense in so many ways and at different levels. The main thesis is simply the book’s title. What brought consciousness to life is the marriage between the self and mind.
It was so convincing to put several neurological concepts i
Um livro com bastantes referências técnicas para vários cientistas que abordam estas temáticas. Alguns capitulos considerei serem demasiado densos para o comum dos leitores, no entanto outros, acho que são bastante abrangentes e que nos ajudam a perceber melhor toda esta temática do cérebro.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: consciousness
Quite descriptive book on neuroscience and consciousness. Some nice ideas and explanations of certain concepts, but no big, unifying theory (IMHO).
David Czuba
Jun 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
I'm sorry I could not finish this book, and it disappoints me due to wanting to give a thorough review. Damasio makes his case with phrases that wink at the reader, as if shamefully, with assertions of how the brain works that are unfounded. Some of what he writes can be considered wishful thinking, because those stretches do not flesh out the bones with reference to peer-reviewed work. No doubt the author is distinguished, and places theories together to make a composite, but what he's asking t ...more
Jeremy Begley
Jan 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
I give four stars. Though I wanted, oh how I so dearly wanted, to give it 5 when I began. To begin, when writing a book about how the integration of a multiplicity of sensual perceptions led to the developement of consciousness, please, for the love of pete, use a multiplicity of sensual indulgences to illustrate your point. I hate to sound infantile, but in a book about neural functions, a single diagram showing the location of the nucleus tractus solitarius might be a slight bit illuminating w ...more
Greg Carroll
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though it might be a weird choice, after reading it three times I think this is my favorite book. Definitely the best approach to consciousness/the self-process that I've come across, even if it doesn't solve the hard problem. I think he's correct, neurologically speaking (i.e. nucleus tractus solitarius and parabrachial nucleus being a basis for primordial feelings--I love this idea), about nearly everything he proposes, even if some things he states are somewhat intuitive or fundamental (i.e. ...more
Não classificarei este livro por não saber como o classificar.
Sendo ele bastante técnico e dentro da sua área, não me sinto à vontade para opinar sem ter como base bons fundamentos na área. As biologias há algum tempo que me deixaram.
De qualquer maneira aconselho-o a quem queira ter uma maior noção do ser químico, hormonal e eléctrico que é, tornando-se mais racional.
(aqui fica-)
Zac Scy
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Stopped reading at chapter 4. While I find the subject fascinating I felt it wasn't delivered in a compelling or interesting way to me.
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Important. Damasio sees the patterns. Our brain perceives in patterns. Neurology has figured out what certain brain structure do and how they work together. And basically it's all about patterns!
Mar 26, 2018 rated it liked it
While overall, a really enlightening read, I felt like there were some topics covered that were some “brain facts” that could have been summarized as well as some old theories that could have been left out (that’s always an annoyance; “here’s 3 pages on a theory that I don’t agree with/have disproved”). There were also quite a few things that were a bit hard to absorb as a "general public" reader. The brain is such an interesting organ. Learning about the working hypothesis on not only how we’re ...more
P Michael N
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic approach to the self, consciousness, how it may have emerged, the role it plays, the relation to the unconscious and the biology behind it. António Damásio masterfully navigates this elusive subject and points to the direction that can be taken to further advance our current understanding of the brain/mind/self/consciousness. Damásio doesn't support dualism, his view of the mind/brain is centered on the intricate biology of the brain in relation to the body and ultimately the formation ...more
Pedro Salmeron Carvalho
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: neurology, science
When I started reading this book, I thought it would be something introductory, with a scientific popularization catch. It is, but with difficult and quite new concepts to me. I would never think consciousness along such rich detailed lines of thought, not I would even imagine that so many complex process take place in order for us to have a single though, a single idea, or simply watch you arms movement.
Having said that, this book gave me a lot to think over what makes us conscious about the wo
Jul 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I was looking for books on the evolution of consciousness in the library ... nothing I hadn't read. Then I went over to the human anatomy section and stumbled on this popular science book written by a neuroscientist on the biological, evolutionary development of consciousness and feelings. Damasio takes us on a very detailed, in-depth exploration of the brain and nervous system and surrounding "felt" tissue. Along the way, he offers testable hypotheses that gradually add up to the evolution of a ...more
Alex Knipping
Uitspraken over het 'ik' en het 'zelf' voeren je al snel op glad ijs. Voordat je het weet, kom je terecht in een cartesiaans theater en ben je bezig weer een homunculus te creëren. Damasio slaagt erin als een slalomspecialist alle poortjes correct te nemen en op de piste te blijven. Hij doet dat door twee vormen van bewustzijn op elkaar te stapelen. De diepste laag wordt vooral geproduceerd door kernen in onze hersenstam, gedreven door homeostase, de 'wens' om tot een optimaal evenwicht te komen ...more
Sunny Baker
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the most insightful books I've read! Damasio's attempt to delve into the mystery of the human consciousnesses deserves accolade! I truly believe this book is a breakthrough in body/mind/ self science. Excellent investigation that requires full attention of one's "core self," and "autobiographical self."
Jun 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steven Leiva
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Damasio, through his work in the lab, his thinking, and his literary output, brings clarity to questions once thought the exclusive domain of philosophy. This makes him. I believe, an important thinker.
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Conclusions 4 8 Dec 28, 2013 03:34PM  
Brain Science Pod...: BSP 90: Review of "Self Comes To Mind" 4 23 Jan 11, 2013 10:03AM  
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Damásio studied medicine at the University of Lisbon Medical School in Portugal, where he also did his medical residency rotation and completed his doctorate. Later, he moved to the United States as a research fellow at the Aphasia Research Center in Boston. His work there on behavioral neurology was done under the supervision of Norman Geschwind.

As a researcher, Dr. Damásio's main interest is the
More about António R. Damásio

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“We all woke up this morning and we had with it the amazing return of our conscious mind. We recovered minds with a complete sense of self and a complete sense of our own existence — yet we hardly ever pause to consider this wonder.” 42 likes
“We have our body in mind because it helps govern behavior in all manner of situations that could threaten the integrity of the organism and compromise life.” 1 likes
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