Summary

Neuroscientist V. S. Ramachandran is internationally renowned for uncovering answers to the deep and quirky questions of human nature that few scientists have dared to address. His bold insights about the brain are matched only by the stunning simplicity of his experiments - using such low-tech tools such as cotton swabs, glasses of water, and dime-store mirrors.
In Phantoms in the Brain, Dr. Ramachandran recounts how his work with patients who have bizarre neurological disorders has shed new light on the deep architecture of the brain, and what these findings tell us about who we are, how we construct our body image, why we laugh or become depressed, why we may believe in God, and how we make decisions, deceive ourselves, and dream.
Some of his most notable cases: A woman paralyzed on the left side of her body who believes she is lifting a tray of drinks with both hands offers a unique opportunity to test Freud's theory of denial. A man who insists he is talking with God challenges us to ask: Could we be "wired" for religious experience? A woman who hallucinates cartoon characters illustrates how, in a sense, we are all hallucinating, all the time.
Dr. Ramachandran's inspired medical detective work pushes the boundaries of medicine's last great frontier-the human mind-yielding new and provocative insights into the "big questions" about consciousness and the self.
©1998 V.S. Ramachandran and Sandra Blakeslee (P)2013 Tantor
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Critic reviews

"Enthralling . . . eloquent." ( The New York Times Book Review)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Elena D. Pascal on 28-06-17

next best thing to Oliver Sacks

Someone on goodreads called this book 'best popular neuroscience book written by someone not named Oliver Sacks' (paraphrasing).
I might be inclined to agree.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Kathy on 18-07-14

Really fascinating stuff!

Ramachandran addresses various neurological disorders and oddities with his own insights into how these problems might arise. He discusses the roles of the different sides of the brain and how injuries or defects in various structures can affect the patient in really diverse and odd ways. He describes cases of patients who are in denial of a paralyzed limb, those who have lost awareness of the left side of their bodies, those who are savants, those who have religious experiences during epileptic episodes along with many other interesting and some times controversial topics.

Ramachandran is a brilliant neuroscientist who has a very inquisitive and curious mind which leads him to ask questions that other scientists avoid such as the role of the brain in religion or multiple personality disorder. Just the fact that he is not afraid to explore these ideas makes this book even more interesting for me. Much of the presented information is based not only on the brain's physiology but also the author's theories. Often he performs simple accompanying experiments which usually provide support for his theories.

The narration is excellent. I highly recommend this book if brain biology, physiology, disorders, and functioning are of interest to you.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Douglas on 18-01-14

Wonderful To See...

another book by Ramachandran on Audible! If you liked his Tell-Tale Brain, you will love Phantoms In The Brain. The real life "Dr. House" (he actually seems much nicer in his youtube videos!) of neurology, Ramachandran shares with us his discoveries in the realm (mostly) right-brain damage and disorder--and how he often enough finds insight not only into the neurological structure of personality, but also into care and healing of those afflicted. From the perfectly bizarre Cotard's Delusion to the puzzling (and nearly comical) Capgras Syndrome, Ramachandran takes us on an interesting and often entertaining tour of the very strange things that can go wrong with our brains.

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11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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