Mind's Past

Michael S. Gazzaniga, Author, Gazzaniga, Author University of California Press $22.5 (216p) ISBN 978-0-520-21320-3
Gazzaniga, director of the program in cognitive neuroscience at Dartmouth and author of Mind Matters, The Social Brain and Nature's Mind, adds an engaging account of how and why the human brain creates a narrative to explain its experiences. Writing for a popular audience, Gazzaniga relates that a portion of the left brain, which he calls the ""interpreter,"" constantly drives the mind to seek reasons for its convictions no matter how unfounded they may be. An example is given of a woman who suffered from a syndrome that led her to believe she was home while visiting her doctor. When asked how she could explain the elevators in the corridor, she immediately produced a reason: ""Doctor, do you know how much it cost me to have those put in?"" While Gazzaniga's anecdotes are fascinating, the conclusion he draws from them seems rather unconvincing. Arguing from the standpoint of evolutionary psychology, he asserts that the left brain's incessant ratiocinations function to enhance human beings' reproductive success through sensible reasoning. Gazzaniga's conclusion about the ""interpreter"" seems analytic, at least in relation to evolutionary theory, which already presupposes that all facets of a species function to promote its reproduction and survival. In fact, Gazzaniga's conclusion stands in contradiction to a basic tenet of his own theoretical framework: namely, that adaptation is not determined by reason but rather by chance. Nonetheless, Gazzaniga's work remains intriguing precisely in its attempt to understand the brain's will toward order and reason, ""even when they don't exist."" (May)
Reviewed on: 05/04/1998
Release date: 05/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 263 pages - 978-0-520-22486-5
Open Ebook - 216 pages - 978-0-520-90024-0
Open Ebook - 216 pages - 978-0-520-92548-9
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