Chapter Summaries 1-6 of The Tell Tale Brain

By Daniel Tolley,

Chapter 1 discusses a mental disposition called a “phantom limb.” After someone has lost an arm or leg, they are still able to feel pain that should be occurring on that missing limb. Ramachandran illustrates how the human brain is very adaptable. By using a mirror box, the patient can visually “see” the missing limb and change their perception that the limb is in pain.

Chapter 2 summarized deals with perception and vision and helps define how the brain differs between the two.  Ramachandran offers an explanation using “Old and New Pathways” to illustrate the brain’s ability to adapt.

Synesthesia and the mixing of sensation and perception are the main focus of chapter 3. By looking at the anatomical differences and offering possible causes to the conditions, Ramachandran proposes the Cross Wiring Hypothesis and Cross Activation Hypothesis. Additionally, chapter 3 proposes an instance for some patients that the number scale most have come to understand can seem distorted and unorganized for others.

Chapter 4 includes an explanation to the importance of mirror neurons. If one human watches another person perform a task, the same areas of the brain turn on for both the person performing the task and the spectator. This relationship offers evidence for the progression of human nature and human behavior.

Chapter 5 discusses the two main categories of autism. The first category is sensorimotor and the other is social-cognitive. In social-cognitive it appears that the patient has a diminished ability to form relationships possibly related to diminished mirror neuron function.

Chapter 6 has a strong connection to psychology. Ramachandran explains two primary sources of language: Broca and Wernicke’s Areas. Broca’s Area is responsible for speech production whereas, Wernicke’s Area is responsible for language comprehension. As we grow older, our ability to learn new languages decreases.


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