Books about the brain: ‘Ha!,’ ‘Joy, Guilt, Anger, Love’ and ‘Consciousness and the Brain’

The Washington Post:

Over the years, my romance with the brain has lost a bit of its spark. I majored in cognitive neuroscience (with the hope of understanding consciousness) and after college spent two years managing a neuroimaging lab. But in my career as a science writer, my interests have migrated toward the “softer” mind sciences, such as social psychology. I came to realize that exploring the fascinating computational power of neural networks would not shed much light on what it feels like to, well, feel. The gap betweenbrain and mind is too great.

Three new books by neuroscientists attempt to explain aspects of the mind in terms of the brain, with varying levels of optimism about neuroscience’s potential. In “Ha!,” Scott Weems shows where funniness lies in the head but remains agnostic about what deconstructing humor will tell us about experience. (Can a computer “appreciate” a joke? He calls this philosophical question “pointless.”) In “Joy, Guilt, Anger, Love,” Giovanni Frazzetto localizes emotion and explicitly addresses his field’s constraints in the subtitle: “What Neuroscience Can — and Can’t — Tell Us About How We Feel.” In “Consciousness and the Brain,” the most ambitious of these books, Stanislas Dehaene offers nothing less than a blueprint for brainsplaining one of the world’s deepest mysteries. He sees no limit to the horizons for neuroscience.

Read the whole story: The Washington Post

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