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Neuromania: On the limits of brain science [Hardcover]

Paolo Legrenzi , Carlo Umilta , Frances Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

12 May 2011
Neuroeconomics, neuromarketing, neuroaesthetics, and neurotheology are just a few of the novel disciplines that have been inspired by a combination of ancient knowledge together with recent discoveries about how the human brain works. The mass media are full of news items featuring colour photos of the brain, that show us the precise location in which a certain thought or emotion, or even love occurs, hence leading us to believe that we can directly observe, with no mediation, the brain at work. But is this really so? Even throughout the developed world, the general public has been seduced into believing that any study, research article, or news report, accompanied by a brain image or two is more reliable and more scientific, than one featuring more mundane illustrations.

This fascinating, accessible, and thought provoking new book questions our obsession with brain imaging. Written by two highly experienced psychologists, it discusses some of the familiar ideas usually associated wtih mind-body, brain-psyche, and nature-culture relationships, showing how the biased and unquestioning use of brain imaging technology could have significant cultural effects for all of us.

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Neuromania: On the limits of brain science + Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience + Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 1 edition (12 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199591342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199591343
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 12.7 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 301,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Paolo Legrenzi and Carlo Umiltà bring a welcome appraisal of brain research to a broad audience. They provide an insightful and comprehensible overview of methods and techniques from the origins of brain science to todays MRI scanners... covering methodological aspects and controversial assumptions that are commonly unknown to the general public. (Science)

Anyone who uses neuroimaging in research into mental processes should read this book. It is a provocative and stimulating critique (Philip Johnson Laird, Stuart Professor of Psychology, Princeton University)

Neuroeconomics, neuroaesthetics, neuroethics, neuromarketing(!).... Why are there all these new neuro... "disciplines"? This short book gives a forceful, zany and sceptical answer from two distinguished psychologists. (Tim Shallice, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL and SISSA)

About the Author

Paolo Legrenzi teaches Cognitive Psychology at the University of Venice, where he directs the School of Advanced Studies. He is the author of: "The Mind" (2002), "Creativity and Innovation (2005) and" Believe "(2008).

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exposing neurononsense 3 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A user-friendly critique of neurononsense by two authors who are equipped to make the judgment. the authors take the reader through the misconceptions and half-baked thinking that underpins the hype around neuroscience.
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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Into the frontiers of brain-land 8 Jan 2012
By Simon Laub - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Legrenzi and Umiltas book deals with all of those colour photos of the brain,
that mass media inundates us with. Pictures that apparently show us the precise location in which a certain thought or emotion occurs in the brain.

Indeed, newspapers often carry articles that one area of the brain governs falling in love, resisting temptation etc. illustrated by a picture of a human brain with a colored section. The news article then explains that the coloured part becomes active when participants in an experiment see their loved ones etc.

But do the newspaper readers really understand the many steps that are needed to produce that picture of the brain with the coloured area? And that each step is based on assumptions, which are not always sound?

In the book, Legrenzi and Umilta takes us through some of the techniques involved, from fMRI scanning to ''cognitive subtraction''. And as the techniques are explained the assumptions also gets exposed.

Obviously, the brain still holds many secrets.
Brain science is not just: The discovery of a one to one connection between a cognitive state and the activation of a brain area. Thats not enough to say that a phenomenon has been revealed and the problem has been solved...

Obviously not. Really understanding, how the brain works, takes many more steps beyond establishing connections between cognitive states and activations.

Obviously, we shouldn't believe everything we read in the newspapers.
And the book certainly explains to us that we should be careful, when neuro images are presented to us.
A good place to start, as we venture further into the frontiers of brain-land.

-Simon
10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars look for an alternative 20 Aug 2012
By Louis Berger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This work is OK as far as it goes, but it remains much too much within a mechanistic, conventional cognitive psychology. Its philosophical grounding is weak and conventional. I would suggest as an alternative any and all of Raymond Tallis's expert and much deeper writings on this subject area, beginning with his early Explicit Animal and continuing through his most recent, Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity.
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