Book of the week: Mind over grey matter

22nd August 2003 at 01:00

Into the Silent Land: travels in neuropsychology
By Paul Broks
Atlantic Books pound;16.99

We all feel embodied, housed in flesh, bones and organs - body parts for which the mechanical and plumbing functions are now common knowledge. But what is the "it" that feels embodied, and constitutes our self? What has been lost when a loved one has "lost it"?

Oliver Sacks awakened the general reading public to the fragile contents of our skulls 30 years ago. But it's still easy to take for granted the organ for which the term "indispensable" is unique.

When Wordsworth claimed that the "body is a portion of the soul discern'd by the five senses", he was neglecting the sixth sense, one that isn't remotely supernatural. It's the sense that constantly charts the location of body parts: proprioception - perception of one's self.

Read more in this week's TES


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