The Three-Pound Enigma: The Human Brain and the Quest to Unlock Its Mysteries

Shannon Moffett, Author . Algonquin $24.95 (309p) ISBN 978-1-56512-423-3

Can the complexities of the human mind be located in a physical organ? Where do our memories and our selves go when the brain dies? In her first book, Stanford medical student Moffett ponders these and other perennial questions through a series of pedestrian profiles of scientists and philosophers, among others. Moffett introduces us to neurosurgeon Roberta Glick, whose work offers a glimpse of the frailty of the human brain and the fact that even minor physical damage to it can whisk away our consciousness and memory forever. Other profiles include John Gabrieli, whose pioneering work with functional MRIs has led to new discoveries about how memory works; sleep researcher Bob Stickgold, who uses functional MRIs and virtual-reality games in an attempt to capture the operation of consciousness in the dream state; and Zen monk Norman Fischer, who teaches Moffett, through meditation, that mind and brain are not synonymous. While the profiles offer no new insights into the mystery of the human brain, Moffett sandwiches in fascinating interludes tracing the development of the brain from embryonic state to death. The interludes sometimes contain overly technical language, but they offer an instructive look at the brain. Line art. Main Selection of the Scientific American Book Club. (Jan. 20)

Reviewed on: 12/05/2005
Release date: 01/01/2006
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-56512-890-3
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