quarta-feira, 8 de dezembro de 2010

Guia do Cérebro

A primeira coisa que notei nesse livro de Gibb foi a linguagem. Descrito como um 'science communicator', o autor escreve com clareza e precisão, isto é, suas frases são límpidas e do tamanho certo para que o leitor vá entendendo a coisa toda. Mesmo sendo um livro de divulgação científica, não há concessões para o falso-simples ou o bombástico. Gibb trata dos assuntos cerebrais com seriedade e conhecimento de causa. Enfim, é um livro que vale a pena ser lido, e pular partes que não interessam não prejudica em nada o restante da leitura (por exemplo, nunca me interessei sobre pesquisas que abordam o sono, e pulei essa parte solenemente). Vê-se pelo índice (abaixo), que a gama de assuntos abordados é ampla.

1 The long view... 1
The evolution of the human brain
2 Exploring the mind… 13
The story of brain science
3 A brief tour… 29
Inside the brain and nervous system
4 Inputs & outputs… 43
How the brain reads our senses and directs our bodies
5 Memory… 61
How the brain records and recalls experience
6 Inner space… 83
Consciousness, reasoning and emotion
7 Intelligence… 107
How “brainy” are you?
8 Fragile systems… 127
Brain disorders, illness and aging
9 Chemical control… 171
How legal and illegal drugs affect the brain
10 The unexplained brain… 203
Mind over matter and ESP
11 Future brains… 223
… in man and machine
12 Resources… 245
Where to find out more

The Rough Guide to The Brain
Barry J. Gibb
http://uploading.com/files/cb1c433b/The+Rough+Guide+to+the+Brain.rar/ ou

Duas citações interessantes que Gibb coloca no início do livro:

"A evolução do cérebro não só ultrapassou as necessidades do homem pré-histórico, como é o único exemplo da evolução fornecendo um órgão a uma espécie que não sabe como usá-lo".

The evolution of the brain not only overshot the needs of prehistoric man, it is the only example of evolution providing a species with an organ which it does not know how to use.”
Arthur Koestler

"Se o cérebro humano fosse tão simples que pudéssemos entendê-lo, nós seríamos tão simples que não poderíamos (entendê-lo)".

If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t.”
Emerson M. Pugh

Alguns livros recomendados por Gibb (há outros, é claro, mas só encontrei esses):

Evolving Brains
John Morgan Allman
How did the human brain with all its manifold capacities evolve from basic functions in simple organisms that lived nearly a billion years ago? John Allman addresses this question in Evolving Brains, a provocative study of brain evolution that introduces readers to some of the most exciting developments in science in recent years. Evolving Brains integrates a multiplicity of evolutionary developments involving genetics, response to climate variations, social organization, the nervous system, environment, and behavior. Drawing on a wealth of new findings in molecular genetics and paleontology, Evolving Brains reveals many of the underlying physiological mechanisms that have influenced the formation of our brains. For example, it's no accident that the brain is located near the entrance to the gut because one of the most basic functions of a brain is finding good things to eat and rejecting toxins.Zooming from the microworld of genes to the macroworld of evolution and behavior, Evolving Brains shows how large brains developed as a buffer against the perilous hazards of an ever-shifting environment, and how the evolution of large brains depended crucially on the formation of the extended family. The rise of the family and its need for communication in turn led to the development of language.One of the clearest maps yet of the brain's long and eventful journey though time, Evolving Brains reveals a more complete picture of who we are and where we come from.Given that all organisms share a common ancestry, why is it that they differ so greatly in their capacities to sense, remember, and respond to the world about them? How did we gain our ability to think and to feel? How do we differ from other organisms in these capacities? Our brain endows us with the faculties and the drive to ask these fundamental questions. The answers depend crucially on understanding how brains have evolved. This inquiry into brain evolution is interdisciplinary and multifaceted, based on converging evidence obtained from the study of the genetic regulation of development, the geological history of the earth, and the behavioral ecology of animals, as well as from direct anatomical and physiological studies of brains of animals of different species. From this investigation three themes will emerge: that the essential role of brains is to serve as a buffer against environmental variation; that every evolutionary advance in the nervous system has a cost; and that the development of the brain to the level of complexity we enjoy -- and that makes our lives so rich -- depended on the establishment of the human family as a social and reproductive unit. The author begins by considering one of the basic problems faced by all organisms: how to find food and avoid hazards in a constantly changing world. This leads to the question of how nervous systems detect and integrate the vast array of information available to them and derive from this flood of data adaptive behavioral responses. The evolution of nervous systems depended on a unique mechanism for communication, the action potential, a self-renewing electrical signal that moves along specialized neural fibers called axons that serve as the wires connecting nerve cells. By permitting the development of large nervous systems, this mechanism for neuronal communication made possible the emergence of complex and diverse forms of animal life.

Essentials Of Human Memory
Alan D Baddeley
Psychology Press 1999 356 Pages PDF 1.2 MB
Essentials of Human Memory evolved from a belief that, although the amount we know about memory has increased enormously in recent years, it is still possible to explain it in a way that would be fully understood by the general reader. This book is based on an earlier book, Your Memory, which was intended for the general public but began to be used as a basic memeory text, thus encouraging the development of the present revised textbook version. Essentials of Human Memory combines coverage of the fundamental issues of human memory, based on laboratory research with abundant illustrations from studies in the real world and in the neuropsychological clinic, where dramatic memory deficits have continued to throw light on our understanding of normal memory.After a braod overview of approaches to the study of memory, short-term and working memory are discussed, followed by learning, the role of organizing in remembering and factors in influemcing forgetting, including emotional variables and claims for the role of repression in what has become known as the false memory syndrome. The way in which knowledge of the world is stored is discussed next, followed by an account of the processes underlying retrieval and their application to the practical issues of eyewitness testimony. The breakdown onf memory in the amnesic syndrome is discussed next, followed by discussion of the way in which memory develops in children, and declinces in the elderly. After a section concerned with mnemonic techniques and memory improvement, the book ends with an overview of recent developments in the field of human memory.

Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain
Antonio R. Damasio
In this wondrously lucid and engaging book, renowned neurologist Antonio Damasio demonstrates what many of us have long suspected: emotions are not a luxury, they are essential to rational thinking.Descartes’ Error takes the reader on an enthralling journey of scientific discovery, starting with the case of Phineas Gage–a construction foreman who in 1848 survived a freak accident in which a 3 1/2 foot iron rod passed through his head–and continuing on to Damasio’s experiences with modern-day neurological patients affected by brain damage. Far from interfering with rationality, his research shows us, the absence of emotion and feeling can break down rationality and make wise decision making almost impossible.

Consciousness Explained
Daniel C. Dennett
Consciousness is notoriously difficult to explain. On one hand, there are facts about conscious experience--the way clarinets sound, the way lemonade tastes--that we know subjectively, from the inside. On the other hand, such facts are not readily accommodated in the objective world described by science. How, after all, could the reediness of clarinets or the tartness of lemonade be predicted in advance? Central to Daniel C. Dennett's attempt to resolve this dilemma is the "heterophenomenological" method, which treats reports of introspection nontraditionally--not as evidence to be used in explaining consciousness, but as data to be explained. Using this method, Dennett argues against the myth of the Cartesian theater--the idea that consciousness can be precisely located in space or in time. To replace the Cartesian theater, he introduces his own multiple drafts model of consciousness, in which the mind is a bubbling congeries of unsupervised parallel processing. Finally, Dennett tackles the conventional philosophical questions about consciousness, taking issue not only with the traditional answers but also with the traditional methodology by which they were reached.Dennett's writing, while always serious, is never solemn; who would have thought that combining philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience could be such fun? Not every reader will be convinced that Dennett has succeeded in explaining consciousness; many will feel that his account fails to capture essential features of conscious experience. But none will want to deny that the attempt was well worth making. Glenn Branch