What links conscious experience of pain, joy, color, and smell to bio-electrical activity in the brain? How can anything physical give rise to nonphysical, subjective, conscious states? Christof Koch has devoted much of his career to bridging the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the physics of the brain and phenomenal experience.
This engaging book - part scientific overview, part memoir, part futurist speculation - describes Koch's search for an empirical explanation for consciousness. Koch recounts not only the birth of the modern science of consciousness but also the subterranean motivation for his quest - his instinctual (if not romantic) belief that life is meaningful.
Koch describes his own groundbreaking work with Francis Crick in the 1990s and 2000s and the gradual emergence of consciousness (once considered a fringy subject) as a legitimate topic for scientific investigation.
Koch gives us stories from the front lines of modern research into the neurobiology of consciousness as well as his own reflections on a variety of topics. All are signposts in the pursuit of his life's work - to uncover the roots of consciousness.
CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title published by The MIT Press.
“I loved every minute of it.” - Nature
“Science writing at its best.” - Times Higher Education
“Destined to takes its place as a timeless masterpiece in the history of science.” - Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine
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Hard science and consciousness brought closer
Christof Koch is in the hardcore science of Biophysics and Neural correlates of consciousness, subjects that are at the forefront of empirical brain science.
So I was pleasantly surprised to see some philosophy, and dare I say a touch of what some might call, beyond the known. This could be because it is very hard to speak about consciousness with dabbling with the "Hard Problem" of Qualia.
I found this book enlightening with some unique hypothesis that did not shy away from the subjective experience and how science might tackle this issue.
This together with a bit of autobiography creates a well rounded and enjoyable book, with a humbling experience as to how little we know, recommended for those who are interested in knowing how hard is the Hard Problem of consciousness.
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A tremendously important book concerning consciousness , Arguably leading to a lack of dualism
I have been a fan of Christof Koch since reading the neural correlates of consciousness and seeing his Cal techWebpage perhaps 10 or more years ago.
Those of us who have long struggled with theExistence of a mind/soul Dualism appreciate the important scientific work of Koch and Crick and those who have worked with them to scientifically analyze the Thought process and consciousness. This is the latest book in a series of books. In the neural correlates of consciousness Koch was able to show how much is the visual cortex works and how we assemble images.
15 years ago there were a few attempting to do what is now being done with the advent of better measuring tools such as fMRI. The ability to measure electrical activity of single neurons and small groups of neurons and track their connections is astounding.
It May not be easy for to understand this work for those mired in philosophy that could not be tested or religion that could not be scrutinized yet this book is understandable to all. Many will need to rethink putting the cart before the horse. We may feel as though we have a soul here at the definition of a soul need to be re-defined. Descartes did not have the tools available to him that are available to Koch.
As we have long been able to see vertebrae and fossils that are similar from one animal to another, we are now able to examine the brains Of many animals and it is apparent that they are conscious as we are even though they are not able to speak (or speak in a language that we are able to understand).
This book makes it abundantly clear that the consciousness that each of us have is based upon the anatomy of our brains, the inputs that we receive and have received and the chemicals, food, neural sustenance That we have taken in allowing us to have the thoughts and feelings that we have.
I will continue to look for new research by Christof Koch and Those who build upon his research.