Top 10 books about consciousness

Top 10 books about consciousness

Top 10 books about consciousness 150 150 icnagency

By: Adrian Owen | Top 10 books about consciousness | Neuroscience | The Guardian

From octupuses that might be thinking with their arms to early humans’ blind obedience to gods, these are some of the best guides to the deep enigma inside ordinary life

What is consciousness? At first blush this question appears to be rather simple, but with further investigation, it quickly becomes much more complex. Consciousness is the most intimate of mental experiences, and yet the hardest to explain. It is the faculty that allows you to read this sentence, to remember yesterday’s events, to enjoy music and art, and to daydream about your plans for tomorrow. It provides your whole experience of the world and yet is mysteriously altered, or absent altogether, when you fall asleep at night.

For centuries, writers have argued about both the nature and purpose of consciousness, yet several rather basic questions remain unsettled. For example: at what stage does a foetus or newborn become conscious and able to understand the world that we, as adults, inhabit? Likewise, how does animal consciousness differ from ours and why do animals not respond as we do to music and art? What would it take to construct a machine that was conscious? And finally, could conditions like coma and the vegetative state harbour conscious minds within unresponsive bodies? These are some of the thorny questions I asked in my new book Into the Grey Zone, through the lens of a neuroscientist working at the border between life and death.

Related: The grey zone: reaching out to patients with disorders of consciousness – podcast

Related: Top 10 books on memory

Continue reading…

icn-neurocience

Latest news and features from theguardian.com, the world’s leading liberal voice