DH Wilkinson once calculated, rather whimsically, that an average human life lasts about 10 9 seconds whereas an average sensory trace lasts less than one second pace Buddha, St John of the Cross and an extremely select group of others. Confined though I am within my own solipsistic nutshell, I know I am more than the sum of a billion-odd parts, and suspect that the same might be true of my fellow humans as well. But between sensation and experience yawns a dreadful gap, long lamented by philosophers, and latterly by neuroscientists too. His book is a well-written and commendably comprehensive survey of many of the big ideas in modern neuroscience. It is manifestly not an answer to the question posed by its title.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Synaptic Self by Joseph E. Following up his "The Emotional Brain, " the world-renowned brain expert presents a groundbreaking work that tells a more profound story: how the little spaces between the neurons--the brain's synapses--are the channels through which we think, feel, imagine, act, and remember.
In Joseph LeDoux's "The Emotional Brain" presented a revelatory examination of the biol Following up his "The Emotional Brain, " the world-renowned brain expert presents a groundbreaking work that tells a more profound story: how the little spaces between the neurons--the brain's synapses--are the channels through which we think, feel, imagine, act, and remember. In Joseph LeDoux's "The Emotional Brain" presented a revelatory examination of the biological bases of our emotions and memories.
Now, the world-renowned expert on the brain has produced with a groundbreaking work that tells a more profound story: how the little spaces between the neurons-the brain's synapses--are the channels through which we think, act, imagine, feel, and remember. Synapses encode the essence of personality, enabling each of us to function as a distinctive, integrated individual from moment to moment.
Exploring the functioning of memory, the synaptic basis of mental illness and drug addiction, and the mechanism of self-awareness, "Synaptic Self" is a provocative and mind-expanding work that is destined to become a classic. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published January 28th by Penguin Books first published More Details Original Title.
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Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Dec 01, Christy rated it really liked it. There is a bunch of Brain-Based Learning BBL in the K classrooms, and not all of it is likely good by way of any grounding in scientific data.
Still, the idea of "teaching to the brain" has taken hold. Jo "Cutting edge" in the field of applied neurobiology to psychological-emotional development, and the role of synapses in the brain specifically.
Joseph Ledoux is quite a character with a synthetic mind and an imaginative descriptor of brain workings, and is also a musician who plays in a NYC band when not teaching at NYU. I also heard him at a conference on the brain and education, and he was fantastic! While enjoyed his work immensely, without some background in basic brain neurology, though, it was difficult for a cohort of mostly principals aiming for superintendency jobs to get through and absorb. One great review of the class said "Ledoux?
In simple terms, this book by neuroscientist LeDoux states that we are who we are because of how our brains are connected. At least, that's what I got from the book.
I have to admit to skimming through some parts that were a little above my head, b In simple terms, this book by neuroscientist LeDoux states that we are who we are because of how our brains are connected. I have to admit to skimming through some parts that were a little above my head, but much of it is perfectly understandable to laypeople, or people in the medical profession.
LeDoux points to the research done so far on the brain, and adds to the historical knowledge his own research. He works mainly on the workings of the brain in the presence of fear and states of anxiety, and his findings are based on this research. I had a little trouble reading about the various ways that scientists discover things about the brain. Much of the research is done through animal studies, and often involves destroying parts of the brain to see what happens. Being a person who has dealt with anxiety and depression, as well as chronic low self-esteem, this book had much that interested me.
Now I know why. I also feel a sense of optimism, that I really can change my thinking patterns with some hard work. The brain learns things and it can be hard to unlearn those patterns. This is why I feel that meditation, yoga and overall stress reduction is going to be very important to my overall mental health. Psychology and neuroscience are really trying to accomplish the same thing. Here's just a snippet of the amazing things he talks about it one section.
The hippocampus is known to help with learning and memory processing. When there are elevated cortisol levels, as in Cushing's disease or in chronic anxiety or depressive states, the cells of the CA3 region actually degenerate and die. The cells in the dentate gyrus normally have high rates of neurogenesis, or growth of new cells which may be key in the forming of new memories or learning.
In the presence of high cortisol, these cells do not regenerate. The brains of people with high cortisol have smaller than average hippocampus regions. With therapy or drugs, these regions typically grow again. LeDoux also points here to the work of Mark Sopolosky, who wrote the book "Why zebras don't get ulcers", which is on my reading list.
LeDoux points out that we learn explicitly and implicitly, that is consciously and unconsciously. While we may not be able to control the implicit learning, we certainly can have an effect by purposely thinking in certain ways, a la cognitive behavioral therapy.
So "positive thinking" isn't just some hippie guru panacea, it makes real scientific sense. My next book is going to be a book on optimism by Michael J. Fox, because I'd like to read more positive things right now! Sep 06, Greg rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: anyone interested in the brain and the self, and who is not afraid of neuroscience.
Shelves: mind-and-brain. I'm sometimes told that the popular science books I read don't do an adequate job of relaying the true scientific underbelly of the subject being talked about. That everything is being dumbed down and simplified to reach a wider audience and keep things interesting. While there are certainly elements of truth in that philosophy, I think that's being unfair to many of books that really do a fantastic job of introducing people to these concepts without forcing them to be an expert.
I say all that I'm sometimes told that the popular science books I read don't do an adequate job of relaying the true scientific underbelly of the subject being talked about.
I say all that to preface the fact that this is NOT one of those books. Synaptic Self, while almost certianly a simplified version of what Ledoux understands about the field, is not for the lay reader. Ledoux talks about neurons, action potentials, neurotransmitters and neuromodulation, different areas and structures in the brain, synaptic plasticity, etc If you've read Pinker's How the Mind Works , imagine a more neuroscientific explanation of much of the material covered in that book.
Early on Ledoux makes the following statement: My notion of personality is pretty simple: it's that your "self," the essence of who you are, reflects patterns of interconnectivity between neurons in your brain.
Connections between neurons, known as synapses, are the main channels of information flow and storage in the brain. Most of what the brain does is accomplished by synaptic transmission between neurons, and by calling upon the information encoded by past transmission across synapses. The rest of the book proceeds to delve into the mechanics of this. He splits the brain up into three main systems cognition, emotion, motivation , describing how each of them work and then explaining how they all work together though he uses these three as a simple distinction, and doesn't argue there are just three physical systems within the brain.
But while there is some serious neuroscience content in here, Ledoux does a respectable job of zooming in and out and speaking at whatever level is appropriate to get his point across. Understanding the self is more than just understanding neurons, it's understanding systems of neurons, and understanding how the functioning of those systems translates into behavior, thoughts and emotions.
Ledoux integrates both psychology and philosophy into the conversation where applicable, and has a great natural ability to help the reader make sense of the more difficult issues. More than anything though, Ledoux's main point is that many of the historical arguments about nature vs. It's obvious that both are right, but what is important to remember is that underlying instinct, memory, thought, emotion, learning, behavioral change, etc And that if we want to understand how the brain works and how we become who we are, we need to understand how these connections are formed, and how they can be changed.
View 2 comments. Feb 28, Virginia rated it it was ok Recommends it for: neuroscience geeks. Shelves: psychology. I would put this book into the category of "interesting, but not fun to read. Because I'm interested in all that cool new neuroscience research, but I really had to force myself through some of this. It is very technical, and although it has the appearance of being accessible to the layperson, it truly is not.
I have a little background in brain physiology but still found myself having to reread paragraphs and passages to clarify what LeDoux was talking about.
The diagrams didn't seem to h I would put this book into the category of "interesting, but not fun to read. The diagrams didn't seem to help much, either.
Love is a many-moleculed thing
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Synapses encode the essence of personality, enabling each of us to function as a distinctive, integrated individual from moment to moment. Exploring the functioning of memory, the synaptic basis of mental illness and drug addiction, and the mechanism of self-awareness, Synaptic Self is a provocative and mind-expanding work that is destined to become a classic. Synaptic SelfAcknowledgments 1. The Big One 2. Seeking The Self 3.