Bard on the Brain: Understanding the Mind Through the Art of Shakespeare and the Science of Brain Imaging

Bard on the Brain: Understanding the Mind Through the Art of Shakespeare and the Science of Brain Imaging

by Paul M. Matthews, Jeffrey McQuain
     
 

More than 400 years after they were first written, Shakespeare's plays still offer a stunning glimpse into the motivations, desires, and deviancies of man. His characters are caught in situations modern readers can sympathize with, and his themes—love, family relations, adultery, power, treachery—are as relevant now as they were then. Surprisingly,

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Overview

More than 400 years after they were first written, Shakespeare's plays still offer a stunning glimpse into the motivations, desires, and deviancies of man. His characters are caught in situations modern readers can sympathize with, and his themes—love, family relations, adultery, power, treachery—are as relevant now as they were then. Surprisingly, another aspect of the Bard's work that has withstood the test of time is his understanding of the brain. The Bard on the Brain is a marvelous combination of close readings of Shakespeare and the most current neurological research that together demonstrate how impulses and actions originate in the brain.

Paul Matthews here shows us the center-stage role of the brain in famous scenes from Shakespeare's plays. With stunning color brain scans and clear English, Matthews demonstrates how uncannily Shakespeare perceived the brain at work in his characters' ideas and deeds, and how the living brain mirrors human experiences created centuries ago by the Bard. Matthews's science is beautifully interwoven with Jeffrey McQuain's interpretations of many of the most significant soliloquies in all of Shakespeare's plays. The Bard on the Brain is also illustrated throughout with performance photos of acclaimed British and American actors—such as Morgan Freeman as Petruchio, Sir Ian McKellen as Prospero, Alfre Woodard as Paulina, and Anthony Hopkins as King Lear—from celebrated Shakespeare companies. The result of this partnership between scientist and scholar is a unique view of Shakespeare's characters, a dissection of his language, and a wonderfully oblique perspective on the human brain.

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Editorial Reviews

New Scientist - Eleanor Case

“Shakespeare investigated how the human mind works 400 years ago, whereas brain scientists today have the tools—such as positron emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging—to address the questions that fascinated Shakespeare. It is a happy partnership on the whole: Shakespeare sets the scene for a topic, then The Bard on the Brain raises the curtain on modern neuroscience’s investigation of it, adding a bright array of brain scans and photographs from Shakespeare productions. . . . The Bard on the Brain is a valuable way in for anyone eager to learn about the mysteries of the mind and the latest exciting developments in brain science.”—Eleanor Case, New Scientist

American Scientist

“An entertaining primer on functional brain imaging”—American Scientist

Journal of the American Medical Association - Heidi Roth

“Matthews and McQuain have created an enjoyable book that exposes lay people to the remarkable advances in brain imaging and the questions that might be asked of brain science.”—Heidi Roth, Journal of the American Medical Association

Stacy Keach

“Paul Matthews and Jeffrey McQuain have given us a new and fascinating insight into the works of Shakespeare and the workings of the human brain. I am honored to be included in this wonderful book.”—Stacy Keach

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780972383028
Publisher:
Dana Press
Publication date:
04/28/2003
Edition description:
1
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
427,325
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Paul M. Matthews is the director of the University of Oxford's Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain.

Jeffrey McQuain is a language writer and Shakespeare scholar who is a popular speaker at Shakespeare festivals. He is the coauthor of Coined by Shakespeare: Words and Meanings First Used by the Bard and the author of several books on vocabulary and usage.

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