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

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 ...

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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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780972383028
  • Publisher: Dana Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2003
  • Pages: 192
  • 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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Table of Contents

Foreword: On the Bard's Brain 1
Introduction 13
A Map of the Brain 21
1 Minds and Brains
The Wonder of the Human Brain (The Tempest, 5.1) 23
Seeing the Man Through His Brain (Hamlet, 5.1) 29
We Share a Common Humanity (The Merchant of Venice, 3.1) 35
2 Seeing, Smelling, Feeling
Finding a Face (Romeo and Juliet, 2.2) 41
Smell: A Direct Link to the Emotional Brain (Hamlet, 3.3) 47
Heat and Cold: As Much in the Mind As on the Skin (Hamlet, 5.2) 53
3 Decision and Action
Battle of the Sexes (The Taming of the Shrew, 2.1) 59
Movement Begins in the Mind (Henry V, 3.1) 65
"Let Me Clutch Thee" (Macbeth, 2.1) 71
Learning and Growing (Love's Labour's Lost, 4.3) 76
Judgment and Control (Henry IV, Part I, 1.2) 83
Motivation and Morality (Richard III, 1.1) 88
4 Language and Numbers
A Muse of Fire (Henry V, Prologue) 95
A Subtle Voice (The Merchant of Venice, 4.1) 101
What Is a Word? (Henry IV, Part I, 5.1) 106
Binding Qualities in Meaning (Romeo and Juliet, 2.2) 111
Putting an English Tongue in a French Brain (Henry V, 5.2) 117
Numbers on the Mind (Julius Caesar, 2.1) 122
5 Our Inner World
Development and Memory (The Tempest, 1.2) 129
Music As a Call to Life (The Winter's Tale, 5.3) 137
What Makes Music Sweet? (Twelfth Night, 1.1) 142
Being God's Spy: Opening the Emotional Heart (King Lear, 5.3) 147
A Fearful Anticipation (Macbeth, 5.8) 152
Building a World in the Mind (The Tempest, 4.1) 157
6 The Seventh Age of Man: Disease, Aging, and Death
Brain Sickness and the Seven Ages of Man (As You Like It, 2.7) 163
The Falling Sickness (Julius Caesar, 1.2) 169
A Strange Commotion in the Brain (Henry VIII, 3.2) 176
The Blackness of Depression (Richard II, 3.2) 182
Tempests in the Mind (King Lear, 3.4) 188
7 Drugs and the Brain
A Celebration of Alcohol (Henry IV, Part II, 4.3) 193
Miming Death (Romeo and Juliet, 4.3) 199
The Seduction of Drugs (Othello, 1.2) 205
Treating Depression (Hamlet, 3.1) 210
The Promise of Treatment (Macbeth, 5.3) 216
Scientific Sources 225
Credits 227
Index 231
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