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Simplexity: Simplifying Principles for a Complex World (Editions Odile Jacob Books)by Alain Berthoz
Synopses & Reviews
In this compelling book, neurologist Adam Zeman tells the stories of patients with a variety of neurological disorders, some familiar (epilepsy, chronic fatigue, stroke, memory loss) and others relatively mysterious (narcolepsy, chronic déjà vu, compulsive fidgeting, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). Chapter by chapter, the author reveals the various levels of the brain, from the atom to the mind, and explores what happens when workings at each level go awry. Zeman requires of his readers no special knowledge of medicine or science, yet he takes us to the very frontiers of current scientific knowledge and elucidates the workings of the brain in astonishing detail.
The book weaves together fascinating case histories, clear accounts of concepts and discoveries in neuroscience, and an intimate view of the suspense, excitement, fun, and angst that color a neurologists days. Zeman also considers what the brains behavior and misbehavior can tell us about the human self as physical system, living creature, and conscious mind. In a final chapter he reflects on the place of the mind in nature. On every page Zeman both entertains and informs, and readers will find themselves pondering the enigmas of brain and mind long after closing the covers of this thought-provoking volume.
A renowned neuroscientist explains how our brains and bodies give rise to knowledge, creativity, and mental experience
Bizarre, perplexing, and moving cases of brain disorder, told by a neurologist with an extraordinary gift for storytelling
In this book a noted physiologist and neuroscientist introduces the concept of simplexity, the set of solutions living organisms find that enable them to deal with information and situations, while taking into account past experiences and anticipating future ones. Such solutions are new ways of addressing problems so that actions may be taken more quickly, more elegantly, and more efficiently.
In a sense, the history of living organisms may be summed up by their remarkable ability to find solutions that avoid the worlds complexity by imposing on it their own rules and functions. Evolution has resolved the problem of complexity not by simplifying but by finding solutions whose processes—though they can sometimes be complex—allow us to act in the midst of complexity and of uncertainty. Nature can inspire us by making us realize that simplification is never simple and requires instead that we choose, refuse, connect, and imagine, in order to act in the best possible manner. Such solutions are already being applied in design and engineering and are significant in biology, medicine, economics, and the behavioral sciences.
Why is the brain divided? The difference between right and left hemispheres has been puzzled over for centuries. In a book of unprecedented scope, Iain McGilchrist draws on a vast body of recent brain research, illustrated with case histories, to reveal that the difference is profound—not just this or that function, but two whole, coherent, but incompatible ways of experiencing the world. The left hemisphere is detail oriented, prefers mechanisms to living things, and is inclined to self-interest, where the right hemisphere has greater breadth, flexibility, and generosity. This division helps explain the origins of music and language, and casts new light on the history of philosophy, as well as on some mental illnesses.
In the second part of the book, McGilchrist takes the reader on a journey through the history of Western culture, illustrating the tension between these two worlds as revealed in the thought and belief of thinkers and artists, from Aeschylus to Magritte. He argues that, despite its inferior grasp of reality, the left hemisphere is increasingly taking precedence in the modern world, with potentially disastrous consequences. This is truly a tour de force that should excite interest in a wide readership.
About the Author
"Zeman is a humane and engaging writer and this is a wonderfully ambitious and entertaining book. I can think of no better guide to 'the last great frontier of science.'"Paul Broks, Prospect
"[This] book is more than an argument about computers and consciousness. There are . . . potentially mind-numbing discussions of the pathways that give rise to the senses and to cognition, accompanied by diagrams of the same. . . . Zeman manages to make all of this stuff . . . interesting."Ivan Oransky, New York Sun
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Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Cognitive Science