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Brains: How They Seem to Work

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Brains: How They Seem to Work

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  • Copyright 2010
  • Pages: 320
  • Edition: 1st
  • eBook (Watermarked)
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-263893-2
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-263893-7

For 50 years, the world’s most brilliant neuroscientists have struggled to understand how human brains really work. Today, says Dale Purves, the dominant research agenda may have taken us as far as it can--and neuroscientists may be approaching a paradigm shift.

In this highly personal book, Purves reveals how we got to this point and offers his notion of where neuroscience may be headed next. Purves guides you through a half-century of the most influential ideas in neuroscience and introduces the extraordinary scientists and physicians who created and tested them.

Purves offers a critical assessment of the paths that neuroscience research has taken, their successes and their limitations, and then introduces an alternative approach for thinking about brains. Building on new research on visual perception, he shows why common ideas about brain networks can’t be right and uncovers the factors that determine our subjective experience. The resulting insights offer a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.

• Why we need a better conception of what brains are trying to do and how they do it
   Approaches to understanding the brain over the past several decades may be at an impasse

• The surprising lessons that can be learned from what we see
   How complex neural processes owe more to trial-and-error experience than to logical principles

• Brains--and the people who think about them
   Meet some of the extraordinary individuals who’ve shaped neuroscience

• The “ghost in the machine” problem
   The ideas presented further undermine the concept of free will

Sample Content

Table of Contents

Preface     vii

Chapter 1   Neuroscience circa 1960     1

Chapter 2   Neurobiology at Harvard     17

Chapter 3   Biophysics at University College     37

Chapter 4   Nerve cells versus brain systems     51

Chapter 5   Neural development     69

Chapter 6   Exploring brain systems     87

Chapter 7   The visual system: Hubel and Wiesel redux     105

Chapter 8   Visual perception     123

Chapter 9   Perceiving color     143

Chapter 10   Theorganization of perceptual qualities     161

Chapter 11   Perceiving geometry     179

Chapter 12   Perceiving motion     201

Chapter 13   How brains seem to work     219

Suggested reading     235

Glossary     241

Illustration credits     275

Acknowledgments     281

About the author     283

Index     285


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