Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique

Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique

by Michael S. Gazzaniga

In his widely accessible style, Michael Gazzaniga looks to a broad range of studies to pinpoint the change that made us thinking, sentient humans, different from our predecessors.Neuroscience has been fixated on the life of the psychological self for the past fifty years, focusing on the brain systems underlying language, memory, emotion, and perception.

In Human, Gazzaniga explores a number of related issues, including what makes human brains unique, the importance of language and art in defining the human condition, the nature of human consciousness, and even artificial intelligence.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Science
  • Rating: 4.02
  • Pages: 464
  • Publish Date: June 24th 2008 by Ecco
  • Isbn10: 0060892889
  • Isbn13: 9780060892883

What People Think about "Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique"

It also explores what role the arts play in human life and where they may have come from, in an evolutionary adaptive sense, and looks at the raging debate over how consciousness arises (one leading theory today is that our sense of self-awareness actually emerges from several different modules of the brain that supply different parts of it). In his conclusion, Gazzaniga writes: "Maybe those people who see humans as only slightly different from the rest of the animals are right. Ice and water are both constrained by their chemical composition, but they are very different because of a phase shift." And humans, he persuasively argues, have undergone a phase shift from their nearest primate relatives -- and may do so again in the future.

And it took some mystery out of the experience of love, gave it a cold name in science. So theres a question to ask here: How much to do you really want to know? He told a story about brilliant men in the history of science who could reach into their minds and illuminate the dark parts of the universe, could invent new fields of science to serve their quest for truth, and create understanding where there had been none. These same men would reach the limits of their knowledge, their capacity to understand, and at that edge of comprehension would intuit an explanation from the information available at the time. This book pulls back a little more of the shroud, breaks our so unique personalities into a set of tiny molecules linked together in a series of chains that have been selected for over time to increase reproductive success. Well allow the first plausible explanation that comports with our understanding of the world to satisfy the question. Our understanding of the human brain is in its infancy, and there are still great mysteries left to explore. Its the kind of book you tell people about while youre reading it, whether theyre interested or not. The whole of the book is fascinating, rich with facts, and approachable.

What is good about this, and all his books, is that he presents studies that show where emotions, thinking, and language are localized in the human brain. Because this book concerns itself specifically with the uniqueness of the human brain, he cites research showing what parts of the brain are activated when certain knowledge or emotions are elicited. Dogs don't have words to express emotions, but their body language, vocalizations and behavior do express their feelings and often their thought processes. Gazzaniga says that dogs don't feel guilt or shame. Yet, linguists were pioneers in such studies since they were and are concerned with how the brain processes and produces language. Had Gazzaniga acknowledged linguistics, as well as neurolinguistics, he would have had the definitive answer to the uniqueness of the human brain. Of course, if Gazzaniga had looked at linguistics or neurolinguistics, he wouldn't have had a book to write.

Gazzaniga Human is the fascinating book about what makes us uniquely human. Dr. Gazzaniga, a neuroscientist, uses his expertise in neuroscience and related fields to explain what makes human brains unique. 3. The wonderful theory of evolution once again provides the framework to understanding our brains. 7. Dr. Gazzaniga not only explains what we know about our brains, he also discloses what we don't know. How food helped expand the human brain. The impact of brain injuries...fascinating stuff! In summary, this book is the science behind being human. Anyone interested in what makes us human with an emphasis on the brain should not hesitate to get this book.

But as all animal species are unique, what he is really saying is that humans are special. The author's second chapter asks the question, "Would a chimp make a good date?" This is intended to make his point that there are obvious differences with the animal world, even from our closest relatives. And maybe this desire to live and to live well is how we are fundamentally the equal of animals, and how all the other stuff about our specialness - what Gazzanigia calls "The Glory of Being Human" - is relatively superficial.

He asserts to help the reader understand the nature of his own consciousness and what sets us apart, in terms of brain function from other species. I liked the information provided, and was not necessarily disappointed with the book on the whole. He did try to address evolutionary changes that are thought to have contributed to consciousness, I just was left feeling like, No that's no it!

It all just feels kind of crammed together, lacking any appropriate cohesion.

Educated at Dartmouth College and California Institute of Technology, he is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he heads the new SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind.