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Book Reviews
November 2001

The Private Life of the Brain

Author Affiliations



Copyright 2001 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2001

Arch Neurol. 2001;58(11):1936. doi:

by Susan Greenfield, MA, DPhil, DSc, CBE, 258 pp, $27.95, New York, NY, John Wiley & Sons Inc, 2000.

Perhaps one of the ultimate goals of science and especially neuroscience is to understand consciousness. With the advent of advanced research tools and better understanding of the mechanisms involved in cellular and regional communication within the brain, attempts have been made to correlate these functions with our ability to perceive our environment. In this book, Dr Greenfield attempts to crystallize her notions of the substrate of consciousness. She begins by defining consciousness as "an interaction between body and brain." According to her thesis, this interaction changes with age and the maturational changes in connectivity among large and small assemblies of neurons may contribute to the "deepening" of consciousness. She is fascinated by the differences between children who seem to be "living for the moment" and older individuals who seem to have a different work- or success-based modus operandi. Using pertinent neurophysiologic and neuropsychologic data together with personal observations, she proposes that "emotions and mind are not stark polar opposites, but rather the end of a continuum."

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