Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are

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Viking, 2002 - Medical - 406 pages
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Ranging widely through philosophy, literature, and the history of science, LeDoux examines how we have conceptualized the relationship between brain and self through the centuries. His own contribution, based on two decades of research, begins with the startlingly simple premise that the self-the essence of who a person is-intricately reflects patterns of interconnectivity between neurons in the brain. Synapses, the spaces between neurons, are not only the channels through which we think, act, imagine, feel, and remember, but also the means by which we encode our most fundamental traits, preferences, and beliefs, allowing us to function as a single, integrated individual-a synaptic self.

As LeDoux brilliantly argues, a synaptic self does not exclude other ways of understanding existence-spiritual, aesthetic, moral-but rather it enriches and broadens these avenues by providing a neurological/psychological construct grounded in the latest research in biology. Rather than join the age-old debate on whether nature or nurture is more determinative, LeDoux posits that both genes and experience contribute to synaptic connectivity. Mind expanding in every sense of the word, Synaptic Self represents an important breakthrough in one of the last frontiers of medical research.

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Synaptic self: how our brains become who we are

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Brain/mind theorists tread upon sensitive territory when they address the issue of personality. Many will readily concede that the activities of the mind result from physical process in the brain ... Read full review

Contents

SEEKING THE SELF
13
THE MOST UNACCOUNTABLE OF MACHINERY
33
BUILDING THE BRAIN
65
Copyright

7 other sections not shown

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About the author (2002)

Joseph LeDoux, Henry and Lucy Moses Professor of Science at New York University's Center for Neural Sciences, is the author of The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life and the co-author with Michael Gazzaniga of The Integrated Mind.

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