Thursday, July 02, 2009

Phantoms in the brain - V.S. Ramachandran, Sandra Blakeslee

A damn fascinating book, and at least the first 3/4ths of it are un-put-downable.

Its a book about "how the brain works" so to speak. However neurology is just a drab way of describing it. What it actually involves are things you'd never have thought could be linked back to it - things that are firmly believed to be part of your "identity" and "personality" and "views". Things we tend to hold so very strongly as "me".

cogito , ergo sum.

However, how amorphous those views can really be, is a question perhaps some of us wouldn't even like to ask. Who knows down where the answer will lead us? And as some of the experiments described in this book show - the rabbit hole goes places you'd not have expected.

I think the first time I got to thinking about this whole area, was some time in school, when I read an article in some readers digest or something. it described a woman who'd suffered some head injuries and her daughter was aghast to find that her preferences in dressing and colours had completely changed.

That got me thinking, if your conservative dressing sense could change to an exuberant one, by a head injury, what else could a whack to your head do? how much of your personality is really malleable, not just by thinking/peer influence/books/experiances, but by sheer physical changes to the brain? How much by just what you eat? coffee helps you keep awake, and chocolate gives you a lift, that seems acceptable to most of us. But could an epileptic fit turn you into a messiah? Does that make your experiance more real, or less, as compared to having gained enlightenment after reading the vedas?

Interesting questions, and a damn fascinating direction, however like I said earlier, be prepared for some unexpected turns in the rabbit hole!


Anantha said...


Some time back a frnd of mine suggested this book to me. Havnt got a chance to read it yet.

Does that book say any thing on any region in brain which decides/alters sexual orientation of a person? just asking this as der is a lotta halla-gulla over IPC 377 and im curious about it..

Tess said...

maybe Guru, I read it on his reco :)

Doesn't say anything about sexual orientation, but there's something more intriguing related to sexuality. And from that it doesn't take much of a stretch to extrapolate from there. :)