Sunday, April 23, 2006

Phantoms in the Brain

The standard operating procedure in the field of medicine is to study the average: what medicine helps the most number of people? How should a surgery be performed to help the greatest number survive? What diseases should be cured to save the largest number of people?

But, Vilayanur Ramachandran points out (correctly) that very interesting insights can be obtained into the operation of a human mind by studying, not the ordinary and the average, but the extra-ordinary. In the field of psychology, this is not new. Afterall, kids and grown-ups do get attracted to wierdos!

His contributions arise from his scientific investigations of how our thoughts and our hormones are connected. It is not quite drab as I make it sound, as VR takes us on a fascinating and often brilliant journey to understand the origins of phantom limbs, laughing disorders and even the origin of the concept of a "God" through the interactions between the various glands embedded deep inside our brains. Infact, you could read the book, Phantoms in the Brain, simply for his superlative explanation of how each person's devotion to God could infact be the result of various hormones working in tandem with each other rather than any social conditioning (of course, the social conditioning might feedback on the glands that produce these hormones too.)

If you are the kinds that is curious about the hows and whys of how humans think, the mechanisms of our own perception, have spent hours analyzing and are proud of this strange habit of enjoying your own thought process, then, this book will provide enough raw materials for a few more days of happy thinking. Highly recommended and cleverly written!


Blogger ligne said...

sounds of these days :)

10:20 PM  
Blogger littlecow said...

of course! of course! :)

3:37 PM  

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