The Three-Pound Enigma

by Shannon Moffett (Author)

“A riveting account of not only the newest research on the brain but of the scientists doing the work.” —Seed magazine

The average human brain weighs three pounds—80 percent of which is water—and yet it's capable of outstripping the computational and storage capacities of the most complex computer. But how the mind works remains one of humankind’s greatest mysteries. This book introduces us to the neuroscientists, neurosurgeons, researchers, and others who are grappling with provocative questions: Why do we dream? How does memory work? How do we see? What happens when we think?

Each chapter delves into a different aspect of the brain, following the experts as they chart new ground. The author takes us to a lab where fMRI scans reveal the multitude of stimuli that our brains unconsciously take in; inside an operating room where a neurosurgeon removes a bullet from a patient's skull; to the lab of Christof Koch, a neuroscientist tracking individual neurons in order to crack the code of consciousness; and to a research lab where scientists are investigating the relationship between dreams and waking life. She also takes us beyond the scientific world—to a Zen monk's zendo, where she explores the effects of meditation on the brain; inside the home of a woman suffering from dissociative identity disorder; to a conference with the philosopher Daniel Dennett, who uses illusions, magic tricks, and logic to challenge our assumptions about the mind; and to the home of the late Nobel Laureate Francis Crick, co-discoverer with James Watson of DNA’s double-helix structure.

With fascinating case studies and a timeline tracking the development of the brain from conception to death, The Three-Pound Enigma is a remarkable exploration of what it means to be human.

“Immensely enjoyable.” —V.S. Ramachandran, author of Phantoms in the Brain

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Publication date
April 30, 2021
Page count
Paper ISBN
File size
3 MB