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Alchemy of Mind The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain

ISBN-10: 0743246748
ISBN-13: 9780743246743
Edition: 2005
List price: $16.00 Buy it from $3.00
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Description: Does the mind reflect or dictate what the body sees and feels? What is the language of emotion? Is memory a function of our imaginations? Are we all just out of our minds? In this ambitious and enlightening work, Diane Ackerman combines an artist's  More...

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Book details

List price: $16.00
Copyright year: 2005
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 10/4/2005
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 320
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.682
Language: English

Does the mind reflect or dictate what the body sees and feels? What is the language of emotion? Is memory a function of our imaginations? Are we all just out of our minds? In this ambitious and enlightening work, Diane Ackerman combines an artist's eye with a scientist's erudition to illuminate the magic and mysteries of the human brain. With "An Alchemy of Mind," she offers an unprecedented exploration of the mental fantasia in which we spend our days. In addition to explaining memory, thought, emotion, dreams, and language acquisition, Ackerman reports on the latest discoveries in neuroscience and addresses such controversial subjects as the effects of trauma, nature versus nurture, and male versus female brains. In prose that is not simply accessible but also beautiful and electric, Ackerman distills the hard, objective truths of science in order to yield vivid, anecdotal explanations about a range of existential questions regarding consciousness and the nature of identity.

Diane Ackerman was born on October 7, 1948 in Waukegan, Illinois. She received a B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University and her M.A., M.F.A., and Ph.D. in English from Cornell University. Poet, author, educator, adventurer, and naturalist, she tries to bridge science and art in her writing, exploring questions of who we are, where we come from, and how we fit into the fabric of the world. She has written many books of poetry including The Planets: A Cosmic Pastoral; Wife of Light; Jaguar of Sweet Laughter: New and Selected Poems; Origami Bridges: Poems of Psychoanalysis and Fire; and I Praise My Destroyer. Her nonfiction works include A Natural History of the Senses; A Natural History of Love; The Moon by Whale Light: And Other Adventures Among Bats, Crocodilians, Penguins, and Whales; An Alchemy of Mind; and On Extended Wings. She also writes nature books for children including Animal Sense; Monk Seal Hideaway; and Bats: Shadows in the Night. She is coeditor of a Norton anthology, The Book of Love. Her essays about nature and human nature have appeared in Parade, National Geographic, The New York Times, and The New Yorker magazines. She hosted a five-hour PBS television series inspired by A Natural History of the Senses. She received the Orion Book Award for The Zookeepers Wife. Her other awards include the Abbie Copps Poetry Prize, Black Warrior Poetry Prize, Pushcart Prize, Peter I. B. Lavan award, and the Wordsmith award. She has taught at a variety of universities, including Columbia and Cornell.

The enchanted loom : imagining the brain
This island earth : evolution; the world's tiniest reptile; our brain and other animals'
Why ask "why?" : what happens in the right brain vs. the left brain; why we're driven to tell stories
The fibs of being : consciousness; some definitions and theories
Light breaks where no sun shines : the unconscious; how it collaborates with the conscious mind
The shape of thought : neurons, dendrites, axons; how all the parts speak to each other
Inner space : synapses, the plasticity of the brain; how we influence brain development; medication and the brain
Attention please : how we unconsciously choose what to pay attention to; multitasking; absentmindedness
A passion for patterns : how our brain quests for meaning in what it senses
In the church of pines : the spiritual brain
Einstein's brain : what happened to it? was it different?
The mind's eye : the brain's ability to imagine/see things that aren't in view at the time
What is a memory? : the importance of memory to who we are; how memories are formed; how they're influenced
Reflections in a gazing ball : how memories are recalled; association of pain and memory; unconscious memory
Remember what? : what happens when we learn; words on the tip of the tongue; Alzheimer's and the aging brain; IQ; short-term vs. long-term memory; how memories affect the present
Remember, I dream : the role of dreams in memory
"Hello," he lied : true and false memories; subliminally influencing thought and memory
Traumatic memories : how they're stored and recalled; connections between emotions and memory
Smell, memory, and the erotic : Proust; perfume; love
Introducing the self : how we think of ourself; the multiple facets of a self
The other self : body and mind; immune system and brain; brain damage and loss of self
Personality : nature vs. nurture; genetics and experience; development as babies
"Shall it be male or female? say the cells : male and female brains; if they work differently; how they're shaped; how traits get passed on
Creating minds : artistic minds, mathematical minds - inherited, cultivated; how they differ; synthesia
The emotional climate : anger, stress, adrenaline, how they affect and are relieved by the brain; our brain isn't made for the modern world; fear, painful thoughts
The pursuit of happiness : happiness as hereditary and achieved; the difference in the brain between natural and forced laughter; optimistic and pessimistic brains
Memory's accomplice : language acquisition, use, and nonverbal thinking
Metaphors be with you : how words organize experience
The color of saying : the origin of words; how we reveal ourselves through words; the brain finding relations among things
Shakespeare on the brain : how Shakespeare's brain was different
Oasis : evolution of life; how our brain came to be
Conscious and consciousness : are we the only conscious animals? some theories about consciousness
A kingdom of neighbors : animal minds
The beautiful captive : imagining the brain; brain research; celebration of the uniquely human brain
Alchemical symbols
Notes, addenda, and afterthoughts
Selected bibliography
Acknowledgments
Index

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