Synopses & Reviews
A psychiatrist who has received international recognition for her research on the neural basis of primate social cognition, Leslie Brothers, M.D., offers here a major argument about the social dimension of the human brain, drawing on both her own work and a wealth of information from research laboratories, neurosurgical clinics, and psychiatric wards.
Brothers offers the tale of Robinson Crusoe as a metaphor for neuroscience's classic (and flawed) notion of the brain: a starkly isolated figure, working, praying, writing alone. But the famous castaway of literature, she notes, came from society and returned to society. So too with our brains: they have evolved a specialized capacity for exchanging signals with other brains--they are designed to be social. This can be seen in the brain's sensitive attunement to the meanings of facial expressions and physical gestures and the way it assigns mental lives to physical bodies--a feat we too often take for granted. Brothers describes fascinating case studies that show that certain kinds of brain damage can destroy a patient's ability to interpret faces, leaving him or her with the sense that they are surrounded by zombies. She takes us down to the level of the individual neuron, exploring the response of brain cells to social events. Perhaps most important, she connects neuroscience, psychiatry, and sociology as never before, showing how our daily interaction creates an organized social world--a network of brains that generates meaningful behavior and thought. Our emotions and our sense of self have no existence outside of a social context.
Brothers conducts her argument with grace and style. By broadening our approach to the brain, this groundbreaking book makes an important contribution to our understanding of the human mind.
"In Friday's Footprint, Professor Brothers offers a breathtaking, sweeping account of how human brain structure and function, from the single neuron to mind and conscious awareness, have come to be shaped through the course of primate social evolution. She challenges us with the startling view that all we are, think, or feel, bears the indelible stamp of our long history as intensely social creatures. While we have long suspected that the evolution of society served as a springboard for the development of refined intellect, a concept of self, and the capacity for deception, Friday's Footprint now firmly anchors these suspicions to a solid neuroscience foundation. Armed with first-hand experience from the research laboratory and the clinic, and argued with much intellectual verve and wit, Brothers' case for the evolution of a `social brain' is airtight."--H. Dieter Steklis, Professor of Anthropology, Rutgers University
About the Author
Leslie Brothers, M.D.
, is Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, UCLA School of Medicine.
Table of Contents
1. A Failure to Connect
2. Building the Experience of Mind
3. The Brain's Social Specialization
4. The Editor Speaks
5. The Shift to a Social Perspective
6. Talking Faces
7. Worlds We Create
8. In Search of Emotion
9. Psychoanalytic Performances and Narratives
10. Exile's End