Man Who Tasted Shapes / Edition 1 available in Paperback
"Space constraints prevent me from giving more than a mere flavour of the richness of Cytowic's thinking. With broad sweeps, he outlines a new landscape. . . . Read this book--and the more objective you think you are, the more open-minded you will need to be to appreciate it."In 1980, Richard Cytowic was having dinner at a friend's house, when his host exclaimed, "Oh, dear, there aren't enough points on the chicken." With that casual comment began Cytowic's journey into the condition known as synesthesia.
-- The New Scientist
The ten people in one million who are synesthetes are born into a world where one sensation (such as sound) conjures up one or more others (such as taste or color). Although scientists have known about synesthesia for two hundred years, until now the condition has remained a mystery. Extensive experiments with more than forty synesthetes led Richard Cytowic to an explanation of synesthesia--and to a new conception of the organization of the mind, one that emphasized the primacy of emotion over reason.
Because there were not enough points on chicken served at a dinner almost two decades ago, Cytowic came to explore a deeper reality that he believes exists in all individuals, but usually below the surface of awareness. In this medical detective adventure, he reveals the brain to be an active explorer, not just a passive receiver, and offers a new view of what it means to be human--a view that turns upside down conventional ideas about reason, emotion, and who we are.
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About the Author
Richard E. Cytowic, M.D., MFA, a pioneering researcher in synesthesia, is Professor of Neurology at George Washington University. He is the author of Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses, The Man Who Tasted Shapes, The Neurological Side of Neuropsychology and (with David M. Eagleman) the Montaigne Medal–winner Wednesday Is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia, all published by the MIT Press.
Jonathan Cole, D.M., F.R.C.P., is Consultant in Clinical Neurophysiology, Poole Hospital, and at Salisbury Hospital (with its Spinal Centre), a Professor at Bournemouth University and a visiting Senior Lecturer, Southampton University.
What People are Saying About This
Space constraints prevent me from giving more than a mere flavour of the richness of Cytowic's thinking. With broad sweeps, he outlines anew landscape.... Read this bookand the more objective you think you are, the more open-minded you will need to be to appreciate it.
Phenomena that are robust and repeatable but don't fit the 'big picture' of accepted Science are often regarded as anomalies and unfairly ignored by the establishment. Synesthesiathe mingling of sensesis one such topic. In this reprint of his classic work, Dr. Cytowic has once again revived interest in this fascinating topic.V. S. Ramachandran, Director, Center for Brain and Cognition, University of California, San Diego
Phenomena that are robust and repeatable but don't fit the 'big picture' of accepted Science are often regarded as anomalies and unfairly ignored by the establishment. Synesthesiathe mingling of sensesis one such topic. In this reprint of his classic work, Dr. Cytowic has once again revived interest in this fascinating topic.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It was very interesting and the main narrative was engaging. Towards the end though he goes off on this tangent about 'the primacy of emotion over reason' that heads straight into New Age territory. Worse the whole arguments are directed various 'straw man'. If you just want to get an inside view on Synesthesia this is a good book for you. If your looking for trustworthy science then not so much.
An interesting book for synaesthetes. As the foreword suggests, it makes some provocative assertions (siting synaesthesia in the limbic system, and saying that, for humans, emotion, connected with that system, is biologically prior to ratiocination, with the cortex), based on the author's own researches up to 1993. The revised edition chooses not to amend the text in the light of more recent research (because, explicitly, that would spoil the 'story' of the reseach - emotion, here, before thought?), but places them in an afterword. Since this new research (to 2003) does alter the picture quite markedly, that is probably a wrong decision. An interesting account of one piece of fascinating scientific research, though, and Cytowic does allow himself to explore the scientific process more broadly that his precise subject might necessarily call for. Ironically, his 1993 conclusions are probably falsified to a degree by the very technological advances that he decries in the main text of the book.