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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Christopher J Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: This book is a bit of an enigma. It has the façade of being neuroscientifically based, but takes a left turn at the idea that consciousness is entirely physical, making it possible for one person to directly experience the conscious states of another person. In that sense, this is a philosophical approach to a neuroscientific proposal.
Purpose: The aim is to argue the point that the privacy barriers we construct around our consciousness can be broken down to the point that one person can directly experience the conscious states of another person given their entirely physical properties, much in the same way that physical objects can be experienced by anyone.
Audience: The book is intended for a wide range of scholars and students in the fields of philosophy, psychology, and cognitive neurosciences. It is written at a very basic level and advanced students or scholars will find much of it a mundane review. The author holds a degree in philosophy and has written a number of books considering the mind-brain interface.
Features: This book is largely philosophical in nature. The middle section contains a review of structural and functional neuroanatomy, as well recent findings in the cognitive neuroscience field. This is integrated with topics involving the mind, such as sense of self and self-representations. When it comes down to it, the author indicates that mind melding could take place through direct physical connections of white matter tracts and offers as support some examples of machine-brain interfaces already taking place. In that sense, it is not difficult to see how this might be possible, but we are light years from that sort of technology. The rest of the book is just a mental exercise that runs in circles and does nothing to forward our progress in this sense. The only way to know is to develop the technology and experiment with it, not defend a 252-page thesis. The references are not as current as they could be and there are some typographical errors that suggest better editing was needed.
Assessment: If mental gymnastics are of interest, this book will entertain. Otherwise, the few hours could be better spent soldering the EEG leads together that will connect those fasciculi together so that we can finally determine if mind melding is actually possible.