Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are

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9780670030286: Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are

Reveals how our brains, and particularly their synapses--the spaces between neurons that are the channels through which we think, act, feel, remember, imagine, and encode our most fundamental traits, preferences, and beliefs--define our personalities. 17,500 first printing.

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Review:

A middle-aged neuroscientist walking down Bourbon Street spots a T-shirt that reads, "I don't know, so maybe I'm not." This stimulus zooms from eyes to brain, neuron by neuron, via tiny junctions called synapses. The results? An immediate chuckle and (sometime later) a groundbreaking book titled The Synaptic Self. To Joseph LeDoux, the simple question, "What makes us who we are?" represents the driving force behind his 20-plus years of research into the cognitive, emotional, and motivational functions of the brain.

LeDoux believes the answer rests in the synapses, key players in the brain's intricately designed communication system. In other words, the pathways by which a person's "hardwired" responses (nature) mesh with his or her unique life experiences (nurture) determine that person's individuality. Here, LeDoux nimbly compresses centuries of philosophy, psychology, and biology into an amazingly clear picture of humanity's journey toward understanding the self.

Equally readable is his comprehensive science lesson, where detailed circuit speak reads like an absorbing--yet often humorous--mystery novel. Skillfully presenting research studies and findings alongside their various implications, LeDoux makes a solid case for accepting a synaptic explanation of existence and provides to the reader generous helpings of knowledge, amusement, and awe along the way. --Liane Thomas

About the Author:

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

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ISBN 10: 0670030287 ISBN 13: 9780670030286
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Editorial: Viking Adult (2002)
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