by Michael S. A. Graziano
About the book: Princeton neuroscientist Michael Graziano lays out an audacious new theory to account for the deepest mystery of them all: what is consciousness? Linking consciousness with social intelligence, Graziano discusses the science, the philosophy, and the implications.
by Francis Crick
About the book: Readers will come to appreciate the strength and dignity of Berneta Ringer, a true Western heroine as Doig celebrates his mother's life after finding a cache of her letters, photographs, and childhood writings. It begins with her first winter living in a tent in Montana's Crazy Mountains to the ravages of the Depression on a ranch on Falkner Creek.
by Christof Koch
About the book: What links conscious experience of pain, joy, color, and smell to bioelectrical activity in the brain? How can anything physical give rise to nonphysical, subjective, conscious states? Christof Koch has devoted much of his career to bridging the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the physics of the brain and phenomenal experience. This engaging book -- part scientific overview, part memoir, part futurist speculation -- describes Koch's search for an empirical explanation for consciousness. Koch recounts not only the birth of the modern science of consciousness but also the subterranean motivation for his quest -- his instinctual (if "romantic") belief that life is meaningful.Koch describes his own groundbreaking work with Francis Crick in the 1990s and 2000s and the gradual emergence of consciousness (once considered a "fringy" subject) as a legitimate topic for scientific investigation. Present at this paradigm shift were Koch and a handful of colleagues, including Ned Block, David Chalmers, Stanislas Dehaene, Giulio Tononi, Wolf Singer, and others. Aiding and abetting it were new techniques to listen in on the activity of individual nerve cells, clinical studies, and brain-imaging technologies that allowed safe and noninvasive study of the human brain in action. Koch gives us stories from the front lines of modern research into the neurobiology of consciousness as well as his own reflections on a variety of topics, including the distinction between attention and awareness, the unconscious, how neurons respond to Homer Simpson, the physics and biology of free will, dogs, Der Ring des Nibelungen, sentient machines, the loss of his belief in a personal God, and sadness. All of them are signposts in the pursuit of his life's work -- to uncover the roots of consciousness.
by Douglas R. Hofstadter
About the book: Can thought arise out of matter? Can self, soul, consciousness, "I" arise out of mere matter? If it cannot, then how can you or I be here? I Am a Strange Loopargues that the key to understanding selves and consciousness is the "strange loop"--a special kind of abstract feedback loop inhabiting our brains. The most central and complex symbol in your brain is the one called "I." The "I" is the nexus in our brain, one of many symbols seeming to have free will and to have gained the paradoxical ability to push particles around, rather than the reverse. How can a mysterious abstraction be real--or is our "I" merely a convenient fiction? Does an "I" exert genuine power over the particles in our brain, or is it helplessly pushed around by the laws of physics? These are the mysteries tackled in I Am a Strange Loop, Douglas Hofstadter's first book-length journey into philosophy since Godel, Escher, Bach. Compulsively readable and endlessly thought-provoking, this is a moving and profound inquiry into the nature of mind.
by Daniel C. Dennett
About the book: This book revises the traditional view of consciousness by claiming that Cartesianism and Descartes' dualism of mind and body should be replaced with theories from the realms of neuroscience, psychology and artificial intelligence. What people think of as the stream of consciousness is not a single, unified sequence, the author argues, but "multiple drafts" of reality composed by a computer-like "virtual machine". Dennett considers how consciousness could have evolved in human beings and confronts the classic mysteries of consciousness: the nature of introspection, the self or ego and its relation to thoughts and sensations, and the level of consciousness of non-human creatures.
by Carl Sagan
About the book: The well-known astronomer and astrobiologist surveys current knowledge of the development of intelligence on Earth in various forms of life and explains his persuasion that intelligence must have developed along similar lines throughout the universe
by Daniel C. Dennett
About the book: This work assesses Darwin's theory of evolution and looks at why it arises such heated debate among scientists, philosophers and sociologists. The book aims to show that Darwinism does not devalue the miracles of life.
by Douglas R. Hofstadter
About the book: 'What is a self and how can a self come out of inanimate matter?' This is the riddle that drove Douglas Hofstadter to write this extraordinary book. In order to impart his original and personal view on the core mystery of human existence - our intangible sensation of 'I'-ness - Hofstadter defines the playful yet seemingly paradoxical notion of 'strange loop', and explicates this idea using analogies from many disciplines.
by Daniel J. Levitin
About the book: The author of the New York Times bestseller This Is Your Brain on Music reveals music's role in the evolution of human culture-and "will leave you awestruck" (The New York Times) Daniel J. Levitin's astounding debut bestseller, This Is Your Brain on Music, enthralled and delighted readers as it transformed our understanding of how music gets in our heads and stays there. Now in his second New York Times bestseller, his genius for combining science and art reveals how music shaped humanity across cultures and throughout history. Dr. Levitin identifies six fundamental song functions or types-friendship, joy, comfort, religion, knowledge, and love-then shows how each in its own way has enabled the social bonding necessary for human culture and society to evolve. He shows, in effect, how these "six songs" work in our brains to preserve the emotional history of our lives and species. Dr. Levitin combines cutting-edge scientific research from his music cognition lab at McGill University and work in an array of related fields; his own sometimes hilarious experiences in the music business; and illuminating interviews with musicians such as Sting and David Byrne, as well as conductors, anthropologists, and evolutionary biologists. The World in Six Songs is, ultimately, a revolution in our understanding of how human nature evolved-right up to the iPod. Read Daniel Levitin's posts on the Penguin Blog.
by V. S. Ramachandran
About the book: John, aged sixty, suffered a stroke and recovered fully, except in one respect: although he can see perfectly, he can no longer recognise faces, even his own reflection in a mirror. Whenever Francesca touches a particular texture, she experiences a vivid emotion: denim = extreme sadness; wax = embarrassment; orange peel = shock. Jimmie, whose left arm was recently amputated, can still feel it - and it's itchy. Our brains are the most enchanting and complex things in the known universe - but what happens when they go wrong? Dr V. S. Ramachandran, 'the Sherlock Holmes of brain science' and one of the world's leading neuroscientists, has spent a lifetime working with patients who suffer from rare and baffling brain conditions. In The Tell-Tale Brain, he tells their stories, and explores what they reveal about the greatest mystery of them all: how our minds work, and what makes each of us so uniquely human.