The Mind's Past (Google eBook)

Front Cover
University of California Press, 1998 - Medical - 201 pages
2 Reviews
Why does the human brain insist on interpreting the world and constructing a narrative? In this ground-breaking work, Michael S. Gazzaniga, one of the world's foremost cognitive neuroscientists, shows how our mind and brain accomplish the amazing feat of constructing our pastOCoa process clearly fraught with errors of perception, memory, and judgment. By showing that the specific systems built into our brain do their work automatically and largely outside of our conscious awareness, Gazzaniga calls into question our everyday notions of self and reality. The implications of his ideas reach deeply into the nature of perception and memory, the profundity of human instinct, and the ways we construct who we are and how we fit into the world around us.Over the past thirty years, the mind sciences have developed a picture not only of how our brains are built but also of what they were built to do. The emerging picture is wonderfully clear and pointed, underlining William James's notion that humans have far more instincts than other animals. Every baby is born with circuits that compute information enabling it to function in the physical world. Even what helps us to establish our understanding of social relations may have grown out of perceptual laws delivered to an infant's brain. Indeed, the ability to transmit cultureOCoan act that is only part of the human repertoireOComay stem from our many automatic and unique perceptual-motor processes that give rise to mental capacities such as belief and culture.Gazzaniga explains how the mind interprets data the brain has already processed, making us the last to know. He shows how what we see is frequently an illusion and not at all what our brain is perceiving. False memories become a part of our experience; autobiography is fiction. In exploring how the brain enables the mind, Gazzaniga points us toward one of the greatest mysteries of human evolution: how we become who we are."

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The mind's past

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The mind is the "fictional self" of the brain. Consciousness results from specific neurological events, and thought is an ad hoc interpretation of them. Cognitive scientist Gazzaniga's assertions suggest that memory, personality, and even selfhood are merely matters of perception. (LJ 4/15/98) Read full review

Review: The Mind's Past

User Review  - Timothy Cruz - Goodreads

Kind of difficult to follow in the beginning, but towards the end it all came together. The title is apparent only after reading through more than three quarters of the book. Read full review


1 The Fictional Self
2 Brain Construction
3 The Brain Knows Before You Do
4 Seeing Is Believing
5 The Shadow Knows
6 Real Memories Phony Memories
7 The Value of Interpreting the Past

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About the author (1998)

Michael S. Gazzaniga, one of the premiere doctors of neuroscience, was born on December 12, 1939 in Los Angeles. Educated at Dartmouth College and California Institute of Technology, he has been on the faculty of the Center for Neuroscience, University of California, Davis. His early research examined the subject of epileptics who had undergone surgery to control seizures. He has also studied Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients and reveals important findings in books such as Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind. While many of his writings are technical, he also educates and stimulates readers with discussions about the fascinating and mysterious workings of the brain. Books such as The Social Brain and The Mind's Past bring forth new information and theories regarding how the brain functions, interacts, and responds with the body and the environment.

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