The Deep History of Ourselves: The Four-Billion-Year Story of How We Got Conscious Brains (Hardcover)
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A leading neuroscientist offers a history of the evolution of the brain from unicellular organisms to the complexity of animals and human beings today
Renowned neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux digs into the natural history of life on earth to provide a new perspective on the similarities between us and our ancestors in deep time. This page-turning survey of the whole of terrestrial evolution sheds new light on how nervous systems evolved in animals, how the brain developed, and what it means to be human.
In The Deep History of Ourselves, LeDoux argues that the key to understanding all human behavior lies in viewing evolution through the prism of the first living organisms. By tracking the chain of the evolutionary timeline he shows how even the earliest single-cell organisms had to solve the same problems we and our cells have to solve each day. Along the way, LeDoux explores our place in nature, how the evolution of nervous systems enhanced the ability of organisms to survive and thrive, and how the emergence of what we humans understand as consciousness made our greatest and most horrendous achievements as a species possible.
About the Author
Joseph LeDoux is the Henry and Lucy Moses Professor of Science, and Professor of Neural Science, Psychology, Psychiatry, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at New York University. He directs the Emotional Brain Institute at NYU and at The Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, and is Deputy Director of the Max Planck-NYU Center for Language, Music, and Emotion, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. LeDoux's books include Anxious, Synaptic Self, and The Emotional Brain, and he is a singer and songwriter in the folkrock band the Amygdaloids, and in the acoustic duo So We Are. He lives with his wife Nancy Princenthal in Brooklyn, New York.
Praise for The Deep History of Ourselves
“Plenty of popular authors describe the history of life, but LeDoux wants readers to remember as well as enjoy, so he divides his book into short, pithy chapters, each explaining a single evolutionary advance . . . Like all good educators, the author begins simply. . . . [An] expert history of human behavior beginning at the beginning.”
"Joseph LeDoux deepens our understanding of a profound question as old as Aristotle: how does our mind set us apart from other species? We could not have a better guide: LeDoux is a world-leading neuroscientist whose research has taken him to the frontiers of behavior, emotions, and consciousness. With brilliance, wit, and wisdom, LeDoux traces four billion years of life, showing how humans share basic behaviors with one-celled organisms yet soar to a reflective self-awareness that may be unique in the universe. Utterly fascinating and a thrill to read."
—Jeffrey D. Sachs, University Professor at Columbia University