Jake's Reviews > Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind

Phantoms in the Brain by V.S. Ramachandran
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's review
Aug 15, 2009

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bookshelves: science
Read in August, 2009

A solid set of neurology case-studies, in the tradition of Oliver Sacks. Ramachandran seems to have made his name explaining how different kinds of phantom limb syndromes function, and he's at his best when he's explaining the weird and miraculous ways the brain copes with the sudden loss of a part of the body. Also very good is the middle portion of the book, when he expands his survey to related neurological problems, including temporal lobe epilepsy (which seems to put some patients into direct rapport with God) and anosognosia (where the patient refuses to recognize a part of the body is paralyzed). Some of the later chapters, where Ramachandran goes further afield into evolutionary psychology (a/k/a sociobiology), and various theories of consciousness, feel a little light and overly speculative-- for that stuff I'd stick with E.O. Wilson or Daniel Dennett. But overall, a very interesting read, made easier by frequent diagrams and Ramachandran's engaging prose style.
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