Monday, December 18, 2017

Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts, by Stanislas Dehaene (author), David Drummond (narrator)

Tantor Audio, January 2014

It seems we are, finally, starting to solve the mystery of what consciousness is, and how the brain creates it.

Moreover, this is not just a fascinating scientific breakthrough, but one with important clinical implications. These are breakthroughs that are starting to make it possible to identify which patients in a "persistent vegetative state" or "minimally conscious state," have conscious activity going on in their brains, despite their inability to communicate.

More than that, it's becoming the basis experimental treatments that are, sometimes, able to bring some of these patients back to full conscious awareness and ability to communicate and control their lives.

In addition to these practical medical applications, Dehaene also discusses research on the existence and limitations of consciousness in non-human animals, and the prospects for conscious machines and true artificial intelligence. He's more optimistic than many others about the possibility of true consciousness and free will in computers, but he makes a logical case for it, regardless of whether I'm fully convinced. (I'm not, but the people qualified to make that case have done so in books that won't be summarized in a few lines in a review of this book.)

Dehaene gives us a lively, engrossing discussion of the history and current developments in the field of consciousness research, and Drummond does, in my opinion, an excellent job of reading it.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.