Think Tank: Forty Neuroscientists Explore the Biological Roots of Human Experience

Think Tank: Forty Neuroscientists Explore the Biological Roots of Human Experience

by David J. Linden (Editor)


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A spirited collection of essays by cutting-edge neuroscientists that irreverently explores the quirky and counterintuitive aspects of brain function

“Make[s] us realize that what goes on in our minds is nothing short of magical.” —Yasemin Saplakoglu, Scientific American

Neuroscientist David J. Linden approached leading brain researchers and asked each the same question: “What idea about brain function would you most like to explain to the world?” Their responses make up this one‑of‑a‑kind collection of popular science essays that seeks to expand our knowledge of the human mind and its possibilities. The contributors, whose areas of expertise include human behavior, molecular genetics, evolutionary biology, and comparative anatomy, address a host of fascinating topics ranging from personality to perception, to learning, to beauty, to love and sex. The manner in which individual experiences can dramatically change our brains’ makeup is explored.

Professor Linden and his contributors open a new window onto the landscape of the human mind and into the cutting‑edge world of neuroscience with a fascinating and enlightening compilation that science enthusiasts and professionals alike will find accessible and enjoyable.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300225549
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 04/24/2018
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

David J. Linden is professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is the author of three books: The Accidental Mind, The Compass of Pleasure, and Touch.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Primer: Our Human Brain Was Not Designed All at Once by a Genius Inventor on a Blank Sheet of Paper David J. Linden 1

Science Is an Ongoing Process, Not a Belief System William B. Kristan, Jr. Kathleen A. French 9

Developing, Changing

Genetics Provides a Window on Human Individuality Jeremy Nathans 19

Though the Brain Has Billions of Neurons, Wiring It All Up May Depend upon Very Simple Rules Alex L. Kolodkin 26

From Birth Onward, Our Experience of the World Is Dominated by the Brain's Continual Conversation with Itself Sam Wang 34

Children's Brains Are Different Amy Bastian 40

Your Twelve-Year-Old Isn't Just Sprouting New Hair but Is Also Forming (and Being Formed by) New Neural Connections Linda Wilbrecht 45

How You Use Your Brain Can Change Its Basic Structural Organization Melissa Lau Hollis Cline 52

Tool Use Can Instantly Rewire the Brain Alison L. Barth 60

Life Experiences and Addictive Drugs Change Your Brain in Similar Ways Julie Kauer 66


Like It or Not, the Brain Grades on a Curve Indira M. Raman 75

The Brain Achieves Its Computational Power through a Massively Parallel Architecture Liqun Luo 82

The Brain Harbors Many Neurotransmitters Solomon H. Snyder 88

Anticipating, Sensing, Moving

The Eye Knows What Is Good for Us Aniruddha Das 97

You Have a Superpower-It's Called Vision Charles E. Connor 105

The Sense of Taste Encompasses Two Roles: Conscious Taste Perception and Subconscious Metabolic Responses Paul A. S. Breslin 110

It Takes an Ensemble of Strangely Shaped Nerve Endings to Build a Touch David D. Ginty 119

The Bane of Pain Is Plainly in the Brain Allan Basbaum 128

Time's Weird in the Brain-That's a Good Thing, and Here's Why Marshall G. Hussain Shuler Vijay M. K. Namboodiri 135

Electrical Signals in the Brain Are Strangely Comprehensible David Foster 145

A Comparative Approach Is Imperative for the Understanding of Brain Function Cynthia F. Moss 153

The Cerebellum Learns to Predict the Physics of Our Movements Scott T. Albert Reza Shadmehr 161

Neuroscience Can Show Us a New Way to Rehabilitate Brain Injury: The Case of Stroke John W. Krakauer 167

Almost Everything You Do Is a Habit Adrian M. Haith 177


Interpreting Information in Voice Requires Brain Circuits for Emotional Recognition and Expression Darcy B. Kelley 185

Mind Reading Emerged at Least Twice in the Course of Evolution Gül Dölen 194

We Are Born to Help Others Peggy Mason 201

Intense Romantic Love Uses Subconscious Survival Circuits in the Brain Lucy L. Brown 208

Human Sexual Orientation Is Strongly Influenced by Biological Factors David J. Linden 215


Deep Down, You Are a Scientist Yael Niv 227

Studying Monkey Brains Can Teach Us about Advertising Michael Platt 231

Beauty Matters in Ways We Know and in Ways We Don't Anjan Chatterjee 238

"Man Can Do What He Wants, but He Cannot Will What He Wants" Scott M. Sternson 245

The Brain Is Overrated Asif A. Ghazanfar 252

Dopamine Made You Do It Terrence Sejnowski 257

The Human Brain, the True Creator of Everything, Cannot Be Simulated by Any Turing Machine Miguel A. L. Nicolelis 263

There Is No Principle That Prevents Us from Eventually Building Machines That Think Michael D. Mauk 270

Epilogue 277

List of Contributors 283

Acknowledgments 285

Index 287

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