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Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are.

Joseph LeDoux

In LeDoux's last book, The Emotional Brain, he discussed the biological foundation of memory and emotion. In Synaptic Self, he explores the biological mechanisms by which the brain makes the self. LeDoux provides a primer in brain science, illustrating how the transmissions between neurons create and maintain personality. The synapses between neurons, he proposes, are not only the means by which we think, act, imagine, feel, and remember, but also the places where combinations of these processes create memory. Synapses are responsible for encoding the essence of the individual, which allows each of us to be the same person from minute to minute and year to year. Nurture and nature both influence our synapses and ultimately construct our personality, LeDoux writes. The author doesn't argue with people who say that the self is psychological, social, moral, aesthetic, or spiritual--rather than neural--in nature. Instead, he attempts to anchor these ways of understanding the self in a neurological framework. LeDoux makes clear that he's offering only a working hypothesis, but he presents it ably. Originally published in hardcover in 2002. Penguin, 2003, 406 p., b&w illus., paperback, $16.00.
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Publication:Science News
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 8, 2003
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