The Architecture of the Brain

I’m reading Adam Zeman’s “A Portrait of the Brain” (2008).

I’ve previously read his “Consciousness: A Users Guide” (2002) after seeing him give a talk in Cambridge in 2003. He’s become short-hand for me as the “Z” in from Austin to Zeman in listing all the various neuroscientists who have investigated “abnormal” behaviours in real individual patients with brain “defects” – all the way from the over-used Phineas Gage example from 1848 to the late 20th C “Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat”.

[Aside – I notice in that reference to hearing Zeman talk in 2003 it was organised in conjunction with Cambridge Centre for Quantum Computing. A connection I’ve made in spades since, but not sure I noticed the significance at the time.]

Mark Solms, who I’m also reading at the moment and is added to that list, points out that sceptical colleagues referred unkindly to Oliver Sacks as “The Man who Mistook Science for a Literary Career”. I’d not heard of Solms before the link above, and I’d not seen anyone else cite Zeman since I originally came across him above. Solms also credits much collaboration with Damasio. These people are a fantastic resource of content and thinking on empirical brain-mind studies. (Roughly – Austin, Damasio, Gazzaniga, McGilchrist, Sperry, Sacks, Ramchandran, Solms, Zeman – from memory.)

Having obtained Zeman’s later work whilst reading Solms, I diverted to reading the former because of the index of contents:

It screams out a layered architecture from the fundamental physical to the highest consciousness. Like Solms book, Zeman’s content is mostly familiar to me in kind, popular science explanations, but is constructed and presented in a wonderfully transparent way. [All we’re missing is some brain topology diagrams that can show the whole story – with science expanding fast in this area in the 21st C, there are so many variations on a theme as new information is “added” to different pictures … a job to be done.]

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