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A Mystery to Itself

Rivka Galchen: What is a brain?, 22 April 2021

The Idea of the Brain 
by Matthew Cobb.
Profile, 470 pp., £12.99, March, 978 1 78125 590 2
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The Future of Brain Repair: A Realist’s Guide to Stem Cell Therapy 
by Jack Price.
MIT, 270 pp., £25, April 2020, 978 0 262 04375 5
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Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain 
by David Eagleman.
Canongate, 316 pp., £20, August 2020, 978 1 83885 096 8
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... in hand since Galen’s performances with the vivisected pigs. Livewired, by the neuroscientist David Eagleman, comes closer than either of the other books to this tradition of popular entertainment. One of his main goals is to emphasise that brains are formed in large part by engagement with the world – by what a person ...

Don’t be dull

Miranda Critchley: Heroin, 6 November 2014

White Out: The Secret Life of Heroin 
by Michael Clune.
Hazelden, 261 pp., £11.50, April 2013, 978 1 61649 208 3
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... the dulling effect of habit. In Writing against Time, drawing on the work of the neuroscientist David Eagleman, Clune looks at the way ordinary experiences are affected by repetition. When we first perceive something, time seems to slow: ‘the moment of perception swells’ and ‘the “fraction of time” expands.’ But the effect fades after the ...

It’s good to be alive

Gideon Lewis-Kraus: Science does ethics, 9 February 2012

Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life: A Psychologist Investigates How Evolution, Cognition and Complexity Are Revolutionising Our View of Human Nature 
by Douglas Kenrick.
Basic, 238 pp., £18.99, May 2011, 978 0 465 02044 7
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Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values 
by Sam Harris.
Bantam, 291 pp., £20, April 2011, 978 0 593 06486 3
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The Fair Society: The Science of Human Nature and the Pursuit of Social Justice 
by Peter Corning.
Chicago, 237 pp., $27.50, April 2011, 978 0 226 11627 3
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... them from talking about ‘the moral landscape’, fMRI studies aren’t taken very seriously. As David Eagleman writes in his recent book Incognito, ‘imaging methods make use of highly processed blood-flow signals, which cover tens of cubic millimetres of brain tissue. In a single cubic millimetre of brain tissue, there are some one hundred million ...

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