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Borges and Memory: Encounters with the Human Brain

by

Borges and Memory: Encounters with the Human Brain Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

andlt;Pandgt;Imagine the astonishment felt by neuroscientist Rodrigo Quian Quiroga when he found a fantastically precise interpretation of his research findings in a story written by the great Argentinian fabulist Jorge Luis Borges fifty years earlier. Quian Quiroga studies the workings of the brain--in particular how memory works--one of the most complex and elusive mysteries of science. He and his fellow neuroscientists have at their disposal sophisticated imaging equipment and access to information not available just twenty years ago. And yet Borges seemed to have imagined the gist of Quian Quiroga's discoveries decades before he made them. The title character of Borges's "Funes the Memorious" remembers everything in excruciatingly particular detail but is unable to grasp abstract ideas. Quian Quiroga found neurons in the human brain that respond to abstract concepts but ignore particular details, and, spurred by the way Borges imagined the consequences of remembering every detail but being incapable of abstraction, he began a search for the origins of Funes. Borges's widow, María Kodama, gave him access to her husband's personal library, and Borges's books led Quian Quiroga to reread earlier thinkers in philosophy and psychology. He found that just as Borges had perhaps dreamed the results of Quian Quiroga's discoveries, other thinkers--William James, Gustav Spiller, John Stuart Mill--had perhaps also dreamed a story like "Funes." With andlt;Iandgt; Borges and Memoryandlt;/Iandgt;, Quian Quiroga has given us a fascinating and accessible story about the workings of the brain that the great creator of Funes would appreciate. andlt;/Pandgt;

Review:

"In this meditation on contemporary developments in neuroscience and the work of Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges, Quiroga, a neuroscientist currently serving as Professor and Director of the Bioengineering Research Centre at the University of Leicester, relates his research into the cognitive structure of memory to Borges's literary exploration of memory in short stories like 'Funes the Memorious.' In 'Funes,' a story about a man who remembers everything (or, more precisely, a man who forgets nothing) but cannot understand abstractions, Quiroga discovers an analogue to neuroscientific research on how 'neurons in the human brain that respond to abstract concepts... play a key role in turning what we perceive... into long-term memories.' Quiroga leads an idiosyncratic tour through neuroscientific studies, case histories of 'extraordinary memory' (including that of Kim Peek, the man who inspired Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man), brain anatomy, and contemporary theories about the neurophysiology of vision. As a work of popular science (not unlike the writing of Oliver Sacks at times), Quiroga's work is satisfying, though it is less successful as a work of literary criticism: his analysis of Borges helps us to understand how neuroscience works, but his analysis of neuroscience does little to help us understand how Borges works. 34 illus. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

Imagine the astonishment felt by neuroscientist Rodrigo Quian Quiroga when he found a fantastically precise interpretation of his research findings in a story written by the great Argentinian fabulist Jorge Luis Borges fifty years earlier. Quian Quiroga studies the workings of the brain — in particular how memory works — one of the most complex and elusive mysteries of science. He and his fellow neuroscientists have at their disposal sophisticated imaging equipment and access to information not available just twenty years ago. And yet Borges seemed to have imagined the gist of Quian Quiroga's discoveries decades before he made them. The title character of Borges's "Funes the Memorious" remembers everything in excruciatingly particular detail but is unable to grasp abstract ideas. Quian Quiroga found neurons in the human brain that respond to abstract concepts but ignore particular details, and, spurred by the way Borges imagined the consequences of remembering every detail but being incapable of abstraction, he began a search for the origins of Funes. Borges's widow, María Kodama, gave him access to her husband's personal library, and Borges's books led Quian Quiroga to reread earlier thinkers in philosophy and psychology. He found that just as Borges had perhaps dreamed the results of Quian Quiroga's discoveries, other thinkers — William James, Gustav Spiller, John Stuart Mill — had perhaps also dreamed a story like "Funes." With Borges and Memory, Quian Quiroga has given us a fascinating and accessible story about the workings of the brain that the great creator of Funes would appreciate.

About the Author

Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, a native of Argentina, is Professor and Director of the Bioengineering Research Centre at the University of Leicester.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780262018210
Subtitle:
Encounters with the Human Brain
Author:
Quiroga, Rodrigo Quian
Author:
Fern�ndez, Juan Pablo
Author:
Quian Quiroga, Rodrigo
Author:
ria
Author:
Kodama, Mar�a
Author:
Rodrigo Quian Quiroga
Author:
, Juan Pablo
Author:
Fernández, Juan Pablo
Author:
Fernandez
Author:
Kodama, Maria
Author:
Kodama, Ma
Publisher:
The MIT Press
Location:
Cambridge
Subject:
Health and Medicine-Medical Specialties
Series:
Borges and Memory
Publication Date:
20120921
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
from 17
Language:
English
Illustrations:
34 band#38;w illus.
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
8 x 5.375 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Cognitive Science
Reference » Science Reference » Philosophy of Science
Science and Mathematics » Biology » General

Borges and Memory: Encounters with the Human Brain New Hardcover
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Product details 224 pages MIT Press (MA) - English 9780262018210 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this meditation on contemporary developments in neuroscience and the work of Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges, Quiroga, a neuroscientist currently serving as Professor and Director of the Bioengineering Research Centre at the University of Leicester, relates his research into the cognitive structure of memory to Borges's literary exploration of memory in short stories like 'Funes the Memorious.' In 'Funes,' a story about a man who remembers everything (or, more precisely, a man who forgets nothing) but cannot understand abstractions, Quiroga discovers an analogue to neuroscientific research on how 'neurons in the human brain that respond to abstract concepts... play a key role in turning what we perceive... into long-term memories.' Quiroga leads an idiosyncratic tour through neuroscientific studies, case histories of 'extraordinary memory' (including that of Kim Peek, the man who inspired Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man), brain anatomy, and contemporary theories about the neurophysiology of vision. As a work of popular science (not unlike the writing of Oliver Sacks at times), Quiroga's work is satisfying, though it is less successful as a work of literary criticism: his analysis of Borges helps us to understand how neuroscience works, but his analysis of neuroscience does little to help us understand how Borges works. 34 illus. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , Imagine the astonishment felt by neuroscientist Rodrigo Quian Quiroga when he found a fantastically precise interpretation of his research findings in a story written by the great Argentinian fabulist Jorge Luis Borges fifty years earlier. Quian Quiroga studies the workings of the brain — in particular how memory works — one of the most complex and elusive mysteries of science. He and his fellow neuroscientists have at their disposal sophisticated imaging equipment and access to information not available just twenty years ago. And yet Borges seemed to have imagined the gist of Quian Quiroga's discoveries decades before he made them. The title character of Borges's "Funes the Memorious" remembers everything in excruciatingly particular detail but is unable to grasp abstract ideas. Quian Quiroga found neurons in the human brain that respond to abstract concepts but ignore particular details, and, spurred by the way Borges imagined the consequences of remembering every detail but being incapable of abstraction, he began a search for the origins of Funes. Borges's widow, María Kodama, gave him access to her husband's personal library, and Borges's books led Quian Quiroga to reread earlier thinkers in philosophy and psychology. He found that just as Borges had perhaps dreamed the results of Quian Quiroga's discoveries, other thinkers — William James, Gustav Spiller, John Stuart Mill — had perhaps also dreamed a story like "Funes." With Borges and Memory, Quian Quiroga has given us a fascinating and accessible story about the workings of the brain that the great creator of Funes would appreciate.
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