A Portrait of the Brain

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In this compelling book, neurologist Adam Zeman tells the stories of patients with a variety of neurological disorders, some familiar (epilepsy, chronic fatigue, stroke, memory loss) and others relatively mysterious (narcolepsy, chronic déjà vu, compulsive fidgeting, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). Chapter by chapter, the author  reveals the various levels of the brain, from the atom to the mind, and explores what happens when workings at each level go awry. Zeman requires of his readers no special knowledge of medicine or science, yet he takes us to the very frontiers of current scientific knowledge and elucidates the workings of the brain in astonishing detail.

The book weaves together fascinating case histories, clear accounts of concepts and discoveries in neuroscience, and an intimate view of the suspense, excitement, fun, and angst that color a neurologist’s days. Zeman also considers what the brain’s behavior and misbehavior can tell us about the human self as physical system, living creature, and conscious mind. In a final chapter he reflects on the place of the mind in nature. On every page Zeman both entertains and informs, and readers will find themselves pondering the enigmas of brain and mind long after closing the covers of this thought-provoking volume.

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Editorial Reviews

The Lancet

"This book is, in short, a remarkable achievement. . . . Neurology has found a fine advocate."—The Lancet
Financial Times Magazine - Clive Cookson

"A fascinating tale about what we do know about the brain, and what happens when it goes wrong. . . . [Zeman] comes across as a lucid explainer of scientific complexity, but also as a humane medical practitioner."—Clive Cookson, Financial Times Magazine

Science News - Tina Hesman Saey

"Lucid, conversational. . . . Zeman steps us through the brain's inner workings, starting with the most fundamental element—the atom—and, by chapter, guiding us from there . . . to the psyche and then even to the anatomy of the soul."—Tina Hesman Saey, Science News
Jonathan Cole

"In this accessible, erudite and wise book Adam Zeman moves effortlessly from the narrative and personal to the scientific and empirical. He writes with passion of his fascination for the subject, together with the sheer excitement of making a diagnosis. This book is inspiring; give it to any student with an inclination towards neuroscience and they ought to be hooked." - Jonathan Cole, author of Still Lives: Narratives of Spinal Cord Injury

Raymond Tallis

"Adam Zeman's latest book on the brain is a masterpiece. He has taken a wonderfully original approach to this, the most extraordinary object in the Universe. The wit, wisdom and encyclopaedic knowledge of an exceptional neurologist and neuroscientist is combined with the erudition of a man steeped in a multitude of cultures... The human brain is very lucky to have such a human being as its spokesman." - Professor Raymond Tallis, author of Knowing the Animal: A Philosophical Inquiry into Knowledge and Truth
Rita Carter

"In this book Adam Zeman has (re)placed the human brain in the person, and placed the person in the wider context of human society and culture. Drawing the case studies from his clinic, Zeman brings his own voice and experience to a subject made famous by Oliver Sacks, and makes it his own." - Rita Carter, author of Consciousness
Dan Zahavi

"Brilliantly conceived and masterfully executed, Zeman's Portrait of the Brain is a spellbinding read." - Dan Zahavi, author of Husserl's Phenomenology
John Carey

"An elegant, step-by-step, state-of-the-art guide to the most important thing in the Universe" - Professor John Carey, emeritus Merton Professor of English Literature and author of What Good Are the Arts?
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300158311
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/8/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,467,106
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Adam Zeman is professor of cognitive and behavioral neurology, Peninsula Medical School, Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry. He is the author of Consciousness: A User’s Guide, published by Yale University Press. He lives in Exeter, UK.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures     viii
Foreword     ix
Introduction     1
Atom: I Am Tired     6
Gene: Don't Fidget     23
Protein: The Light of Dawn     39
Organelle: Metamorphoses     61
Neuron: Lost in Translation     78
Synapse: Dr Gelineau's Dream     100
Neural Network: The Sense of Pre-existence     118
Lobe: The Art of Losing     140
Psyche: Betrayal     159
Soul: The Anatomy of the Soul     180
Epilogue: O Magnum Mysterium     199
Sources and Suggestions for Further Reading     202
Glossary     213
Appendix     239
Index     240
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