Brains: How They Seem to Work

Brains: How They Seem to Work

Dale Purves

Language: English

Pages: 251

ISBN: 0137055099

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


“Dale Purves’ Brains is my favorite sort of reading--an engaging and intelligent scientific autobiography full of vivid personal and historical accounts; the story not only of a life but of an intellectual pursuit. Purves has a unique voice, lively, outspoken, and very human--and his love of science comes through on every page.” --Oliver Sacks

“Brains is an engaging tour of human neuroscience from one of its most distinguished and opinionated practitioners. Dale Purves is a lively and informative guide to the field, having been at the scene of some of its great discoveries and having made many important discoveries himself.” --Steven Pinker, Harvard University, author of The Stuff of Thought

“A rare account of both the modern history of key discoveries in brain research by someone who was there and responsible for many of them and also a heartfelt account of the joy of it all. Dale Purves has given us an inside view of a life in science and explains with clarity what it all means.” --Michael S. Gazzaniga, University of California, Santa Barbara,
author of Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique

“Brains is a delightful book that weaves together Dale Purves’ personal neuroscience history with the history and current status of the field. I enjoyed it start to finish.” --Joseph LeDoux, New York University, author of The Emotional Brain and Synaptic Self

“This book is many things. It’s the memoir of an immensely likeable human (who I only previously knew as a distant giant in my field). It’s people with strong personalities that give lie to the notion that science is an affectless process. But most of all, it is a clear, accessible, affectionate biography of neuroscience. This is a terrific book.” --Robert M. Sapolsky, Stanford University, author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

“Both highly entertaining and educational. A masterpiece.” --Bert Sakmann, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

For 50 years, the world’s most brilliant neuroscientists have struggled to understand how human brains really work. Today, says Dale Purves, the dominant research agenda may have taken us as far as it can--and neuroscientists may be approaching a paradigm shift.

In this highly personal book, Purves reveals how we got to this point and offers his notion of where neuroscience may be headed next. Purves guides you through a half-century of the most influential ideas in neuroscience and introduces the extraordinary scientists and physicians who created and tested them.

Purves offers a critical assessment of the paths that neuroscience research has taken, their successes and their limitations, and then introduces an alternative approach for thinking about brains. Building on new research on visual perception, he shows why common ideas about brain networks can’t be right and uncovers the factors that determine our subjective experience. The resulting insights offer a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.

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complementary colors, 246 computational theory, brain systems and, 223–228 cone opsins, 246 cones defined, 246 visual processing in, 105 consciousness, defined, 247 context, 247 contralateral, 113, 247 contrast, 247 Cornsweet edge effect, 139–141, 247 Cornsweet, Tom, 139 corpus callosum, 247 cortex, 247 cortical columns, 247 cortical modularity, 91–92 over time, 92–93 somatic sensory system, 95–96 cortical neurons experience, effect of, 111–114 responses of, 111 Costantin,

expended in meeting some demanding contingency. This ongoing neural regulation of resource expenditure and replenishment to maintain an overall balance of body functions is called homeostasis. Although the major controlling centers for homeostasis are the hypothalamus and the circuitry it controls in the brainstem and the spinal cord, the neurons that directly activate the smooth muscles and glands in various organs are in collections of hundreds or thousands of nerve cells in the autonomic

Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1988 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.) Figure 4.6 Jeff Lichtman circa 2006. (Courtesy of Jeff Lichtman) Getting to know Hamburger was equally important, but this happened only gradually during the next few years. Despite the considerable scientific accomplishments of Hunt and Cowan, Hamburger was far and away the most notable neuroscientist at Washington University in 1973. Because he was in the Biology Department on the undergraduate

I (and, eventually, Gabriel Gutierrez) wanted to see if the regions of sensory cortex that experienced more neural activity during maturation captured more cortical area than less active brain regions. We could explore this question by measuring the area occupied by different components of the somatic sensory map at different ages, asking whether the more metabolically active areas grew faster (see Figure 6.3B). If we could establish this correlation, it would imply that the neural activity

transmission. While in Australia, Katz became a British citizen, served in the Royal Air Force as a radar officer, married, and eventually returned to University College London as Hill’s assistant director in 1946. Back in England, he briefly collaborated with Hodgkin and Huxley on understanding the action potential and coauthored a paper with them that reported one of the major steps in this work in 1948. Katz had joined the effort at the end of Hodgkin and Huxley’s remarkable collaboration, and

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