Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Book Review

What is going on in between your ears? For some of us who have left behind even the vestiges soft determinism  and feel a true ownership in our lives, there are still some decisions we make that at the time seem to be right, though proven wrong in retrospect. I don't turn to a theistic or ethereal explanation because it is not a part of my personal belief system. Instead I turn to modern cognitive science. "What was I thinking?" becomes, "What influences in my thought process led me to believe that was a good idea?".

A good first step in understanding the inner workings of our selves is to study the new research stemming from  fMRI. "Pictures of The Mind" by Miriam Boleyn-Fitzgerald should be included in this. What really is the difference between the waking, sleeping and coma states of the brain? What physically happens when we think about actions like playing tennis? fMRI focuses in the metabolic actions in the brain that are assumed to take place when neurons are activated. So we can now see what regions of the brain are doing what and when.

This book is a great introduction to what could make for a lifetime of study; as hobby or as profession on how the interactions of extraordinarily complex system of the human brain functions. Paired with books on behavior it is possible to paint a much clearer picture of how what was formerly separate fields interact. In other words, neuroscience has progressed to the point that it can no longer be ignored by psychology.

Most importantly, having a better understanding of 'how' in my opinion, can lead to the best explanations of 'why'. How do we: learn, interact locally, interact globally, associate with and interpret the actions of others. Humanity is often outstripped by its abilities and technologies. Maybe the next step for human potential lies in directing that intimidating force inwards for a change.

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