States of Mind: New Discoveries About How Our Brains Make Us Who We Are (Life Sciences) Hardcover – 16 Mar 1999
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From Publishers Weekly Eight crisply written reports about groundbreaking advances in brain research form this accessible tome based on a lecture series. Joseph LeDoux, NYU brain scientist, describes his exciting investigations into the human brain's ""fear system"" for detecting and responding to danger. The workings of this quick-response system, which bypasses the higher, ""thinking"" parts of the brain, provide a neurological basis for Freud's theory of the unconscious, he asserts. At the opposite pole, Harvard psychiatry professor J. Allan Hobson argues that while dreams consolidate memories and learning, their strange images are merely incidental physiological by-products, rather than symbols fraught with emotional meaning. Noting the prevalence of manic-depressive illness and depression among renowned artists, writers and composers, Johns Hopkins psychiatry professor Kay Redfield Jamison suggests that the genes predisposing an individual to these disorders might also confer a proclivity for creativity. Attempts to get rid of or to mute these genes pose a dilemma for society, she declares, since they may constitute one source of artistic genius. Bruce McEwen of Rockefeller University reports that chronic stress not only exacerbates a host of illnesses but also damages the hippocampus, a brain structure involved with memory, and Harvard psychologist Jerome Kagan explains why he believes our individual brain chemistries at birth predispose us to be outgoing or shy, bold or fearful. Based on a 1997 lecture series co-sponsored by Smithsonian Associates and the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, an organization of U.S. brain researchers, the volume is enhanced by chapter headnotes and illustrations ranging from a medieval medical woodcut to modern brain scans.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc."
From the Inside Flap
States of Mind States of Mind is a wonderfull accessible introduction to the most important recent findings about how our health, behavior, feelings, and identities are influenced by the workings of our brains. Eight pioneering researchers present remarkable new insights about how our inner lives both of the mind and of the body are generated and regulated by the marvelous biology going on inside our heads. These preeminent scientists offer a new way of understanding ourselves of peering into the workings of our brains in order to appreciate how our emotions and moods, our memories and dreams come about. They also reveal a new understanding of health and illness and how important the interconnections between our minds and bodies are. Are we born to be shy? Why do we remember some events so clearly and others not at all? Do our dreams really have deeper meanings? Are creativity and depression somehow linked? How does stress affect our vulnerability to illness? Whether discussing the brain–body connection, the sources of emotion, or the ethereal world of dreams. these top experts offer lively and stimulating introductions to the most exciting findings, and a new way of understanding our lives.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Each article was originally a public lecture, designed for a non-specialist audience. And that's what makes the book so readable. First, the articles tend to have a very fluid, readable style, unlike so much academic prose. Because they were originally intended as lectures, they aren't as dense ... it's assumed the reader is a casual listener, rather than an expert, carefully reading and re-reading each sentence. And that makes this book a real treat. It's extremely enjoyable to read about the latest in brain research, explained by real experts in their fields, and in such a readable form.
The experts range from a Harvard professor (Jerome Kagan, director of the Mind-Brain-Behavior Initiative) to a best-selling author (Kay Redfield Jamison, who gives a fascinating look at manic depressives among the gifted). Despite covering a wide variety of topics, each article is eminently readable and flows nicely into the next. Which has to be a credit to the editor, Roberta Conlan. Obviously, this isn't a book for everyone. It does assume a certain background knowledge of the brain and how it works. But if you're interested in finding out what the state of our knowledge of the brain is, this is an excellent place to start.Read more ›
The underlying theme throughout the essays is the evolutionary process. How has adaptation led the human brain to today's conditions? In any study of the brain, it is the abnormalities that provide focus. These essayists accept that both genetics and environment work together to create the dispositions humans now possess. No single element can be isolated in understanding how the brain functions. Beginning with the physical, especially the neuron's structure and operation, they move on to demonstrate how changes in brain chemistry can lead to addictions, mood swings and even creativity. The authors don't shun the many ethical questions about brain research or therapies. However, they insist that a new framework for psychological studies is required, one based on evolutionary, hence, biological foundations. In essayist Eric Kandel's words, "Everything is organic."
If any of the essays must be selected as the outstanding one, it is J.Allan Hobsan's study of sleep and dreaming. He describes the neurochemistry of dreaming before relating studies of both human and animal dream indicators.Read more ›
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