How Brains Make Up Their Minds

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Columbia University Press, 2000 - Medical - 171 pages
I think, therefore I am. The legendary pronouncement of philosopher René Descartes lingers as accepted wisdom in the Western world nearly four centuries after its author's death. But does thought really come first? Who actually runs the show: we, our thoughts, or the neurons firing within our brains?

Walter J. Freeman explores how we control our behavior and make sense of the world around us. Avoiding determinism both in sociobiology, which proposes that persons' genes control their brains' functioning, and in neuroscience, which posits that their brains' disposition is molded by chemistry and environmental forces, Freeman charts a new course--one that gives individuals due credit and responsibility for their actions.

Drawing upon his five decades of research in neuroscience, Freeman utilizes the latest advances in his field as well as perspectives from disciplines as diverse as mathematics, psychology, and philosophy to explicate how different human brains act in their chosen diverse ways. He clarifies the implications of brain imaging, by which neural activity can be observed during the course of normal movements, and shows how nonlinear dynamics reveals order within the fecund chaos of brain function.


SelfControl and Intentionality
Meaning and Representation
Dynamics of Neurons and Neuron Populations
Sensation and Perception
Emotion and Intentional Action
Awareness Consciousness and Causality
Knowledge and Meaning in Societies

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About the author (2000)

Walter J. Freeman is a professor in the graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught brain science for forty years. He is the author of several hundred articles and three books, Mass Action in the Nervous System, Societies of Brains, and Neuro Dynamics.