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Portraits of the Mind follows the fascinating history of our exploration of the brain through images, from medieval sketches and 19th-century drawings by the founder of modern neuroscience to images produced using state-of-the-art techniques, allowing us to see the fantastic networks in the brain as never before. These black-and-white and vibrantly colored images, many resembling abstract art, are employed daily by scientists around the world, but most have never before been seen by the general public. Each ...
Portraits of the Mind follows the fascinating history of our exploration of the brain through images, from medieval sketches and 19th-century drawings by the founder of modern neuroscience to images produced using state-of-the-art techniques, allowing us to see the fantastic networks in the brain as never before. These black-and-white and vibrantly colored images, many resembling abstract art, are employed daily by scientists around the world, but most have never before been seen by the general public. Each chapter addresses a different set of techniques for studying the brain as revealed through the images, and each is introduced by a leading scientist in that field of study. Author Carl Schoonover’s captions provide detailed explanations of each image as well as the major insights gained by scientists over the course of the past 20 years. Accessible to a wide audience, this book reveals the elegant methods applied to study the mind, giving readers a peek at its innermost workings, helping us to understand them, and offering clues about what may lie ahead.
Praise for Portraits of the Mind:
"An odyssey through the brain, illuminated by a rainbow"
--New York Times
"The collection of images in the new book Portraits of the Mind is truly impressive . . . The mix of history, science and art is terrific."
"History, science, and art come together to provide a unique perspective on what's going on upstairs."
"No knowledge of the source or subject matter of these images is necessary; the book is justified by their beauty alone."
"A remarkable new book"
"John Keats's insistence that truth is beauty is exemplified by Carl Schoonover's wonderful book Portraits of the Mind. Since one cannot understand the present without examining the past, this book offers a delightful and instructive way of accomplishing just that. I enthusiastically recommend this beautiful book both to students of brain science and to lovers of art."
-Eric R. Kandel, MD, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2000; University Professor at Columbia; Fred Kavli Professor and Director, Kavli Institute for Brain Science; Senior Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and author of In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind
"Portraits of the Mind achieves a rare combination of beauty and knowledge. Its images of the brain are mesmerizing, from medieval engravings to modern visualizations as gorgeously abstract as anything by Rothko or de Kooning. And in explaining the nature of these images, this book also delivers an enlightening, up-to-date history of neuroscience."
-Carl Zimmer, author of Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain-and How It Changed the World and The Mind's Eye Goes Blind: Fifteen Journeys Through the Brain
"Portraits of the Mind is a remarkable book that combines beautifully reproduced illustrations of the nervous system as it has been visualized over the centuries, as well as lively and authoritative commentaries by some of today's leading neuroscientists. It will be enjoyed by professionals and general readers alike."
--Dale Purves, MD, Professor of Neurobiology, Psychology and Neuroscience; and Philosophy at Duke University
Posted January 25, 2011
Carl Schoonover, a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at Columbia University, has provided information and images about the function of the central nervous system that is as fascinating a read as it is a subject. Not one to tackle all aspects of this interesting book, Schoonover has engaged fellow scientists and historians to access the history of the study of the human brain from the Middle Ages to the present. The result is a book brimming with scientific information made readable by the author in the accompanying captions to the many photographs and reproductions of drawings that illuminates the purely scientific writing of the text of the book. The book opens with a well-written introduction and preface by the author who sets us on a journey to experience the ancient beliefs about the brain and the gradual probing of understanding how thoughts are transmitted and how the body works under the governorship of the brain. Beginning with Galen and progressing through Vesalius and Descartes (with some fascinating information on phrenology!) and Golgi, the beginning of Neuroscience as a subject begins the intensive writing and illustrations of Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852 - 1934), the Spanish histologist, neuroscientist, and Nobel laureate. From here until the end of the book are images now available through electron microscopy, MRI, and other sophisticated forms of imaging that present the art of the central nervous system. After reading the texts, returning to the book becomes an artistic experience as the illustrations are endlessly fascinating. PORTRAITS OF THE MIND is a book that marries science and art and will likely become a part of not only schools of science and medicine, but also schools of art. Very well written and produced, this book is highly recommended for the investigative mind! Grady Harp
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