Friday, February 3, 2012

Phantoms In The Brain

As an observer's point of view, the world- from a tiny atom to a vast galaxy, seems no less than mystery and apparently can only be comprehended through 'something'that is more mysterious than  mystery itself and when we search for this ‘something’ , nothing seems more reasonable than  our brain- A three pound jelly type structure consisting billions of neurons. There would be times when most of us ponder over the purpose of existence, the feeling of ‘I’ emanating from the deep inside, the observer sitting inside the brain going into a recursion and many more abstract aspects of life. It would not be exaggeration to say that since advent of the existence, these fundamental questions have been searched and what we see today as religion, belief and philosophy are merely by-products of this mysterious expedition.

Some weeks before, I got familiar with the work of the one of most sought neuroscientist of contemporary world, V. S. Ramchadran through his lecture-video on TED where he was describing his experiments with the patient diagnosed with different brain disorders in an attempt to unlock the mystery of brain. It was quite intriguing and interesting. To understand brain is more like a crime investigation where every clue, however small and trivial, should be logically deducted to conclusion with logical consistency of assumption. If someone, Ramchandran’s video on TED and his book “Phantoms in the Brain” made me remember, it was Sherlock Homes and it would not be an exaggeration to crown him as “The Sherlock Homes of Neuroscience”.

A world where the line separating real and imaginary, feeling and substance seems blurred and enigmatic, the book “Phantoms in the brain” not only stimulates with the questions but also provide answers, very much like a scientific explanation with logical consistency that unveils the long-hidden facets related to reciprocity of mind and body.  The simplicity of writing with systematic elucidation is riveting. Once I got hold of book, it took me into a mysterious world where I could relate my electrical circuits very much to the functionality of mind. The question whether the technology is abstraction of mind or understanding of mind is mere widening of our understanding of electrical circuits (pattern-finding-behaviour) is similar to much notorious question- which came first, the egg or hen.

The case-studies of numerous patients described in the book will not only provide the deep insights and complexity of brain but also provide the glimpse of inevitable and indisputable link of mind and body and consequently, it kindles the possibility of a new kind of therapy in medical field in coming future. And, no doubt it emergence in near future might create a paradigm shift. 

Nothing sounds so interesting to me when a book which defines the humour in neurological way and also illustrates the possible reasons behind having a sense of humour exclusively in human-beings is quoted as one of the most funniest and original book (Guardian, Newspaper). The simple experiments devised by V. S. Ramchandran outlines the illusory nature of self. Through intriguing relationship between perception and conception (Blind-Spot), he delves into utter mystery of existence. With Various references of philosophers and scientist like Freud and Darwin, this book provides insights from various dimensions.  

 Read this book, it may hammer your notions of GOD but I am sure it will give you sense of humility- the ultimate purpose of religion, for being an inevitable part of cosmos. Somehow, this book points towards a window from where, I firmly believe, one day we would be able to discern the mysticism and spirituality which are hitherto been perceived as incomprehensible.