Brain Sense: The Science of the Senses and How We Process the World around Us

Brain Sense: The Science of the Senses and How We Process the World around Us

Brain Sense: The Science of the Senses and How We Process the World around Us

Brain Sense: The Science of the Senses and How We Process the World around Us


Have you ever wondered why you remember color images and scenes so much better than those in black and white? Or do you ponder why that first cup of morning coffee tastes better than anything you'll have all day? The answer lies in the way our brains interpret and process the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and touches that make up our lives. Brain Sense explores the latest research on brain function and the senses and offers fascinating new insights about what makes us tick. The book melds interviews with renowned scientists with stories of everyday experiences to illustrate how our brains process the world around us. Divided into parts, one for each sense, Brain Sense reveals:

why what you eat and drink is not necessarily what you taste

• how we respond to pheromones

• how the body reacts to touch

• how music changes how the brain works

• the real truth about the sixth sense

• how the brain's electrical responses affect hearing
Both enlightening and engaging, this book will help us more fully understand the elusive mysteries of the human brain.


I don't recall when I first fell in love with science, but I remember the day when I said, “'Til death do us part.” I was counting raspberry bushes. They grew wild around the abandoned strip mines of Appalachia. As an ecology student at West Virginia University in Morgantown, I clambering around an old mine's precarious slopes with twenty other eager undergraduates. We shot line transects and counted the bushes, orienting our test sites by the compass, while measuring roped-off segments ten-meters square for careful counting and mapping. The day was hot and sticky. The prickly bushes tore our clothes and gouged our flesh. Black coal dust clogged our lungs. Sunburned and sweaty, we learned that wrestling truth from reality was difficult … and fun!

Field science infatuated me that day, but my pledge of lifelong devotion to the scientific process came a few days later, when we pooled data from several teams. We made graphs of numbers of raspberry bushes, north and east, upslope and down. The graphs sang to me. Their meaning popped off the page and danced around my desk. In axes, points, clusters, and lines, the numbers of raspberry bushes revealed the history of the mine. In the days long before ecology became a household word, those bars, dots, lines, and curves mirrored the fifty-year history of the mine, disclosing how the site had been worked, when it had been abandoned, where the acid mine drainage had polluted most, and how nature had attempted—with wild raspberries—to bandage the land so it could heal from within. The data painted a picture more beautiful to me than any art museum masterpiece.

From that day on, I never questioned my choice of a career. It was science for me, in some form, and I've tried quite a few. In the bacteriology labs at West . . .

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