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Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Flaneur)

I started my interest in neurobiology in December 1998 after reading a discussion by Rita Carter in the FT showing that rational behavior under uncertainty and rational decision making can come from a defect in the amygdala. Since then I've had five years of reading more technical material (Gazzaniga et al is perhaps the most complete reference on cognitive neuroscience) and thought that I transcended this book.

But it was not so. I picked up this book again last weekend and was both astonished at a) the ease of reading , b) the clarity of the text and c) the breadth of the approach! I was looking for a refresher as I am trying to capture a general idea of the functioning of that black box and found exactly what I needed without the excess burden of prominent textbooks. Very pedagogical.

I read here and there comments by neuroscientists dissing the book over small details perhaps invisible even to experts. I just realize that Carter should keep updating it, as it is invaluable in my suitcase when I travel! I do not conceal my suspicion of "science writers" and journalists more trained in communicating than understanding and usually shallow babblers but Carter is an exception. Perhaps the science of the mind requires breadth of knowledge that she has. She is a thinker in her own right not just a "medical journalist".


Brain scans reveal our thoughts, memories - even our moods - as clearly as an X-ray reveals our bones. We can watch a person's brain literally light up as it registers a joke, or glow dully when it recalls an unhappy memory.

MAPPING THE MIND shows how these cans can be used to help explain aspects of our behaviour and how behavioural eccentricities can be traced to abnormalities in an individual brain. Dyslexia, for example, may be caused by a short-circuit in the messages converting sound to visual cues; addiction, eating disorders and alcoholism stem from dysfunction in the brain's reward system. In this acclaimed book Rita Carter draws on the latest in brain imaging to give extraordinary insights into how the brain works.

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