The Private Life of the Brain: Emotions, Consciousness, and the Secret of the Self

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9780471399759: The Private Life of the Brain: Emotions, Consciousness, and the Secret of the Self
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"Drawing on many different sources–the effects of neurological disorders and injuries, the actions of drugs, the character of thought in dreams, in schizophrenia, in reverie, and in childhood–Susan Greenfield has given us a synthesis which is challenging, original, readable, and personal."–Oliver Sacks

How does the human brain produce your private world?

In this groundbreaking exploration, neuroscientist and author Susan Greenfield demystifies the private life of the brain. She examines the physical basis of our emotions and searches for the answer to one of the most enduring mysteries in modern science: How does the brain create a unique, subjective experience for each one of us?

Utilizing cutting-edge research and compelling personal anecdotes, Greenfield reveals that emotions, triggered by individual life experiences, are the very foundation upon which our brains build our unique minds. In this absorbing, lyrical exploration, Dr. Greenfield presents a provocative new theory that provides an illuminating glimpse into the human brain and reveals the astonishing essence of who we are.

"This is one of those rare books that can make a reader happy to have been led to think."–Booklist

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Review:

What's going on in there? One of the great scientific and philosophical mysteries is how a few pounds of wet, salty cobwebs can give rise to the rich experience that we call consciousness. Oxford neuroscientist Susan Greenfield peers inside the dimly lit skull to show us what she thinks is going on in The Private Life of the Brain. Greenfield has a facility for explaining tricky scientific concepts in language that can engage any reader. She presents the basics of contemporary thought on consciousness as they relate to her own theory, which involves a continuum of experience between sensual, emotional grounding in the surrounding world and rational, cognitive withdrawal into mental life. Arguing from a wide range of animal and human research, and drawing on the work of philosophers John Searle and Daniel Dennett, she makes her case compellingly but gently, granting that other theories might also hold in this still-uncharted territory. Looking in depth at depression, drug use, and fear, Greenfield shows how each is explained by her continuum theory and how each relates to the life of the human organism as a whole. Could it be true that as our minds work harder, our hearts lose some feeling, and vice versa? It's an intriguing, thought-provoking idea, one that alone makes The Private Life of the Brain essential reading for minds seeking self-enlightenment. --Rob Lightner

From the Inside Flap:

How do our unique personalities emerge from our anatomically identical physical brains? What gives rise to our emotions? Why do some drugs make us ecstatic while others make us miserable?

For centuries, the most elusive and tantalizing questions about how the human mind works were left to the esoteric realm of philosophers. But in the last decade, there has finally been an explosion of interest from those who study the physical brain.

In this groundbreaking scientific exploration, internationally acclaimed neuroscientist and author Susan Greenfield demystifies the private life of the brain. Embarking on an excursion deep inside the human brain, Greenfield takes us beyond the intricate tangle of cells, electrical impulses, and molecules to examine the physical basis of our emotions and search for the answer to one of the most enduring mysteries in modern science: How is a unique, subjective experience generated in each one of us?

Informed by years of cutting-edge research, as well as compelling personal anecdotes that we can all relate to, Greenfield reveals that emotions, triggered by individual life experiences, are the very foundation upon which our brains build our unique minds. Offering us a brain scientist?s perspective on the intricate dance of emotions and cognitive abilities, Greenfield asserts that this extraordinary sense of the self is inextricably bound to the often mercurial world of emotions.

Rich in insights from such diverse realms as neuroscience, pharmacology, psychology, philosophy, and everyday life, The Private Life of the Brain traces the life of our mind and reveals how our childhood experiences; intense emotions like fear, depression, and euphoria; and the drugs that induce these extreme feelings dramatically affect who we are. She argues that emotions exist at the core of our selves to a greater or lesser degree, depending on how much we are using?or losing?our mind at any given moment.

Timely and provocative, The Private Life of the Brain is a tour de force that provides an eye-opening look through the authoritative lens of neuroscience. Captivating for novices and experts alike, this intriguing book presents an enlightening journey into the human brain for anyone who has ever pondered the mystery of who we are and how the brain works.

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9780471183433: The Private Life of the Brain: Emotions, Consciousness, and the Secret of the Self

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ISBN 10:  0471183431 ISBN 13:  9780471183433
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