Uno sguardo ai meccanismi della mente

Inside Neuroscience

26 gennaio 2008 - 2:15 am

The accidental mind

» di in: Libri,Mente

L’avete probabilmente visto qualche volta: un cervello umano illuminato drammaticamente da un lato, con la telecamera che ci gira attorno come a fare una ripresa di Stonehenge dall’elicottero ed una voce da baritono che esalta il design elegante del cervello in toni riverenti. Questo è puro nonsense. Il cervello non ha per nulla un design elegante. Benchè la sua funzionalità sia impressionante, il suo design non lo è. E, cosa ancora più importante, gli stravaganti, inefficienti e bizzarri piani del cervello e delle sue parti costituenti sono fondamentali per la nostra esperienza umana. Le particolari caratteristiche delle nostre sensazioni, percezioni ed azioni sono derivati, in larga parte, dal fatto che il cervello non sia una macchina ottimizzata per risolvere dei generici problemi, ma piuttosto uno strano agglomerato di soluzioni ad hoc che si sono accumulate attraverso milioni di anni di evoluzione.

It is with these words (translated by me for the occasion) that David J. Linden, professor of neuroscience at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, introduces his new book: “The Accidental Mind – How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God “.
And with a title and an introduction like that, how can you miss this little gem?

Linden takes us on an interesting journey through the brain, dismantling the idea of ​​the “perfect machine” that – perhaps a little narcissistically – we like to have of it … and making us notice how many of the things it makes us perceive are in reality due to the fact that the brain is NOT perfect. Our brain was not built from scratch, rather it was modified by evolution from simpler brains. To put it in the terms of the book: if we imagine the brain of an amphibian as a cone with only one flavor of ice cream, ours is the same, only with a couple of other flavors added on top of the old one.  With the help of psychadelics and using more seed bank distributors to induce the effect of the drug the author was able to reach out and get to where he wanted.

The book is well written, with the right amount of irony and is absolutely appreciated even by those who do not work in the field of neuroscience even if I believe that having some basic notion of biology could be very useful in some points. Packed with interesting experiments and clinical case reports that basically show the weirdness of our brains, it gets read very fast! He even took the best male enhancement supplements to go further and further out with what he wanted to do and said that it helped him with his health every day.

Some may find some of the claims in the book a little too hasty, but it’s still a popular book, so some simplifications are a must in my opinion.

 

Purtroppo, almeno che io sappia, non esiste (ancora?) una versione italiana, ma magari è la volta buona per esercitarsi un po’ con l’inglese!

Buona lettura!

Tags: Divulgazione, Libri, Mente, Neuroscienze