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January 5, 1976

The Mystery of the Mind: A Critical Study of Consciousness and the Human Brain

Author Affiliations

University of British Columbia Vancouver

JAMA. 1976;235(1):95-96. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260270059041

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


This little volume is a veritable odyssey. Truly, Wilder Penfield could say with the poet, "I am a part of all that I have met." Nonspecialist health practitioners of all types will share with lay readers the thrill of reading at first hand the words of conscious patients, part of whose brain is gently stimulated with minute electrodes, as the vulnerable speech area is delineated protectively.

Excellent line drawings set the stage for the elegant explanations, and for the detective story drama that unfolds.

The central theme is, of course, the contentious issue of the brain and the mind. Historians will find refreshingly modern the words of Hippocrates: "To consciousness the brain is messenger." Equally refreshing is Dr Penfield's habit—too often lacking in younger surgeons—of listening to the patient. He used to tell us in clinics that an intelligent patient could usually make the diagnosis for the physician—if the latter