100 books like Phantoms in the Brain

By V.S. Ramachandran, Sandra Blakeslee,

Here are 100 books that Phantoms in the Brain fans have personally recommended if you like Phantoms in the Brain. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Thinking, Fast and Slow

Scott Galloway Author Of The Algebra of Wealth: A Simple Formula for Financial Security

From my list on helping you be your best self.

Why am I passionate about this?

I try to use my platform to  help people consider how to live a more meaningful life. I've made mistakes, learned from them, and want to pass on those lessons. There are many definitions of success and fulfillment and many paths to achieve it. I hope by telling my story others can avoid some of the mistakes I made.

Scott's book list on helping you be your best self

Scott Galloway Why did Scott love this book?

Professor Kahneman’s ideologies on decision-making have helped me in business and my personal life.

His insights have enhanced my decision-making process and helped me navigate the strait between instinct and decision. His insights have encouraged me to delegate routine decisions, allowing me to reserve my mental energy for the most critical choices.

By Daniel Kahneman,

Why should I read it?

42 authors picked Thinking, Fast and Slow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The phenomenal international bestseller - 2 million copies sold - that will change the way you make decisions

'A lifetime's worth of wisdom' Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics
'There have been many good books on human rationality and irrationality, but only one masterpiece. That masterpiece is Thinking, Fast and Slow' Financial Times

Why is there more chance we'll believe something if it's in a bold type face? Why are judges more likely to deny parole before lunch? Why do we assume a good-looking person will be more competent? The answer lies in the two ways we make choices: fast,…


Book cover of Consciousness Explained

Matthew Hutson Author Of The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane

From my list on consciousness and how our brain works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a freelance science reporter and Contributing Writer at The New Yorker, with degrees in cognitive neuroscience and science writing. Growing up, I wanted to understand the fundamental nature of the universe—who doesn’t?!—and grew interested in physics, before realizing our only contact with outside reality (if it exists) is through consciousness. Today I cover psychology and artificial intelligence, among other topics. Can machines be conscious? I don’t know. Why does consciousness exist at all? I don’t know that either. But if there’s anything at all that’s magic in the universe, it’s consciousness.

Matthew's book list on consciousness and how our brain works

Matthew Hutson Why did Matthew love this book?

We tend to picture an observer inside our heads experiencing consciousness as if watching a movie. But that just pushes explanation back a level: What’s inside that observer? The prolific philosopher Daniel Dennett dismantles many common intuitions about awareness, showing them to be illusions hiding the intricate and deceptive mechanics of the mind and brain. This was one of the first books on consciousness I read. I don’t agree with everything Dennett has to say on the matter, but he’s a great guide to think with.

By Daniel C. Dennett,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Consciousness Explained as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Consciousness Explained, Daniel C. Dennett reveals the secrets of one of the last remaining mysteries of the universe: the human brain.

Daniel C. Dennett's now-classic book blends philosophy, psychology and neuroscience - with the aid of numerous examples and thought-experiments - to explore how consciousness has evolved, and how a modern understanding of the human mind is radically different from conventional explanations of consciousness.

What people think of as the stream of consciousness is not a single, unified sequence, the author argues, but 'multiple drafts' of reality composed by a computer-like 'virtual machine'.

Dennett explains how science has exploded…


Book cover of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat And Other Clinical Tales

Dean-David Schillinger MD Author Of Telltale Hearts: A Public Health Doctor, His Patients, and the Power of Story

From my list on books by or about doctors that focus on our shared humanity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a primary care doctor who is fascinated by my patient’s stories and what they reveal about their lives, their illnesses, and their pathways to recovery. I have always been a lover of literature related to the human condition and “the big questions,” having majored in Russian Language and Literature as an undergraduate. All the books I have chosen were written by physicians who were accomplished not only in the sciences but in the arts. I hope you enjoy this hybridization of disciplines as much as I have!

Dean-David's book list on books by or about doctors that focus on our shared humanity

Dean-David Schillinger MD Why did Dean-David love this book?

I was simply stunned by this book. Dr. Sacks, a neurologist, drew me into the inner mysteries of the brain by describing the amazing lives and characters of some his most bizarrely afflicted patients. I was delighted to see how some of them overcame or coped with their afflictions, and I finished the book with an indescribable feeling of the magical alchemy of science and story to reveal our deepest truths.

By Oliver Sacks,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat And Other Clinical Tales as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Celebrating Fifty Years of Picador Books

If a man has lost a leg or an eye, he knows he has lost a leg or an eye; but if he has lost a self - himself - he cannot know it, because he is no longer there to know it.

In this extraordinary book, Dr. Oliver Sacks recounts the stories of patients struggling to adapt to often bizarre worlds of neurological disorder. Here are people who can no longer recognize everyday objects or those they love; who are stricken with violent tics or shout involuntary obscenities, and yet are gifted with…


Book cover of The Illusion of Conscious Will

Tom Stafford Author Of Mind Hacks: Tips & Tools for Using Your Brain

From my list on understanding the human mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am now a Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Sheffield, UK. I co-wrote Mind Hacks with technologist Matt Webb; we had great fun doing it. My research has always been in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, using experiments to understand the mind and brain and how they fit together. 

Tom's book list on understanding the human mind

Tom Stafford Why did Tom love this book?

A brilliant and accessible explanation for one of the central mysteries: how and why do we feel like we decide to act? Sometimes, we think we cause events when we don’t; other times, we act without knowing it. What gives?!

Through the story of his research programme, Wegner shows how each experiment fits together to build a satisfying explanation for how the mind fabricates for us a feeling of agency. As well as experiments, the book covers a set of fascinating phenomena, Ouija boards, hypnosis, and possession, and tries to show how they can be made sense of.

The whole thing is a window into how experimental psychologists do their work, as well as a compelling account of the nature of conscious will.

By Daniel M. Wegner,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Illusion of Conscious Will as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A novel contribution to the age-old debate about free will versus determinism.

Do we consciously cause our actions, or do they happen to us? Philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, theologians, and lawyers have long debated the existence of free will versus determinism. In this book Daniel Wegner offers a novel understanding of the issue. Like actions, he argues, the feeling of conscious will is created by the mind and brain. Yet if psychological and neural mechanisms are responsible for all human behavior, how could we have conscious will? The feeling of conscious will, Wegner shows, helps us to appreciate and remember our…


Book cover of Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist

Matthew Hutson Author Of The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane

From my list on consciousness and how our brain works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a freelance science reporter and Contributing Writer at The New Yorker, with degrees in cognitive neuroscience and science writing. Growing up, I wanted to understand the fundamental nature of the universe—who doesn’t?!—and grew interested in physics, before realizing our only contact with outside reality (if it exists) is through consciousness. Today I cover psychology and artificial intelligence, among other topics. Can machines be conscious? I don’t know. Why does consciousness exist at all? I don’t know that either. But if there’s anything at all that’s magic in the universe, it’s consciousness.

Matthew's book list on consciousness and how our brain works

Matthew Hutson Why did Matthew love this book?

Christoph Koch, a physicist-turned-neuroscientist, is a colorful character. I’ve spoken with him and heard him speak many times, and he never fails to entertain. Here he explains the neuroscience and philosophy of consciousness, arguing that someday it will all be explained (which I don’t personally believe), while giving a personal take on why the topic interests him and how he got to where he is. For a long time, the C-word was to be avoided in science, but his mentor Francis Crick (co-discoverer of DNA’s structure) helped bring it into the mainstream.

By Christof Koch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Consciousness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A fascinating exploration of the human brain that combines “the leading edge of consciousness science with surprisingly personal and philosophical reflection . . . shedding light on how scientists really think”—this is “science writing at its best” (Times Higher Education).
 
In which a scientist searches for an empirical explanation for phenomenal experience, spurred by his instinctual belief that life is meaningful.
 
What links conscious experience of pain, joy, color, and smell to bioelectrical 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…


Book cover of Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts

David Millett Author Of The Cure: Imagine There’s No Religion

From my list on love, hate, greed, passion, and self interest.

Why am I passionate about this?

David Millett is a digital artist. He is an accomplished author, filmmaker, and producer of paper and eBooks. He loves writing, painting, filmmaking, composing, and performing music.

David's book list on love, hate, greed, passion, and self interest

David Millett Why did David love this book?

This book is a joyous exploration of the mind and its thrilling complexities. It will excite anyone interested in cutting-edge science and technology and the vast philosophical, personal, and ethical implications of finally quantifying what consciousness is. How does our brain generate conscious thoughts? And why does so much of our knowledge remain unconscious? Thanks to clever psychological and brain-imaging experiments, scientists are closer to cracking this mystery than ever before.

By Stanislas Dehaene,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Consciousness and the Brain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2014 BRAIN PRIZE

From the acclaimed author of Reading in the Brain and How We Learn, a breathtaking look at the new science that can track consciousness deep in the brain

How does our brain generate a conscious thought? And why does so much of our knowledge remain unconscious? Thanks to clever psychological and brain-imaging experiments, scientists are closer to cracking this mystery than ever before.

In this lively book, Stanislas Dehaene describes the pioneering work his lab and the labs of other cognitive neuroscientists worldwide have accomplished in defining, testing, and explaining the brain events behind…


Book cover of The Brain: The Story of You

Marc Dingman Author Of Bizarre: The Most Peculiar Cases of Human Behavior and What They Tell Us about How the Brain Works

From my list on learning about your brain.

Why am I passionate about this?

My fascination with the brain began when I was an undergraduate, and since has grown into an insatiable curiosity about all things neuroscience. Today my main job is teaching courses in the health sciences at The Pennsylvania State University, but I spend much of my free time trying to find ways to make neuroscience understandable to those who share my enthusiasm for learning about it. I mostly do this through my books and a series of short neuroscience videos on my YouTube channel: Neuroscientifically Challenged.

Marc's book list on learning about your brain

Marc Dingman Why did Marc love this book?

If you’re looking for an easy-to-understand and entertaining introduction to the basics of how your brain works, The Brain is a great choice.

The author, David Eagleman, is an accomplished neuroscientist who has both a deep understanding of brain function and a talent for explaining those functions in a clear and engaging style.

The book also explores how neuroscience might influence some profound philosophical questions about free will, consciousness, and more—so you’ll get a dose of deep thinking along with some fundamental neuroscience knowledge.

By David Eagleman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Brain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'This is the story of how your life shapes your brain, and how your brain shapes your life.'

Join renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman on a whistle-stop tour of the inner cosmos. It's a journey that will take you into the world of extreme sports, criminal justice, genocide, brain surgery, robotics and the search for immortality. On the way, amidst the infinitely dense tangle of brain cells and their trillions of connections, something emerges that you might not have expected to see: you.


Book cover of The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science

Cathy Tsang-Feign Author Of Keep Your Life, Family and Career Intact While Living Abroad: What Every Expat Needs to Know

From my list on to equip yourself for living abroad.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a psychologist, I've worked with countless emigrants and international expatriates. People relocate to various parts of the world for different reasons. However, each person’s life struggles, cultural background, experiences, and knowledge help make the world more colorful and richer in so many ways. I encourage people to open themselves to see the world and be receptive and tolerant to those who are different from them. It teaches us to be humbler and more respectful, and to enrich our life in general. My choices are about preparing your mind and your heart for life in another culture. Sometimes a well-crafted novel can offer insights that other media can’t express.

Cathy's book list on to equip yourself for living abroad

Cathy Tsang-Feign Why did Cathy love this book?

I recommend this book to all people as a basic self-care exercise.

As a psychologist, I always support and empower clients to understand their own mind, body, and spirit as one of the important pathways toward overcoming psychological issues. The author, a leading neurologist, focuses on brain plasticity: the almost miraculous ability of our brains to adapt and change even after significant injury, by citing case studies with explanations that even lay readers can understand.

Our mind and body are interconnected, so learning more about the role of our brain is a good place to start. This book will open your horizons to how powerful and flexible your brain is and how much we can do as a gatekeeper to maintain a healthy being.

The book is easy to read as well as packed with knowledge that can change your way of living. 

By Norman Doidge,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Brain That Changes Itself as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An astonishing new science called neuroplasticity is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Norman Doidge, M.D., traveled the country to meet both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they've transformed-people whose mental limitations or brain damage were seen as unalterable. We see a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself to work as a whole, blind people who learn to see, learning disorders cured, IQs raised, aging brains rejuvenated, stroke patients learning to speak, children with cerebral palsy learning to move with more grace, depression and anxiety…


Book cover of The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human

William Hirstein Author Of Responsible Brains: Neuroscience, Law, and Human Culpability

From my list on bridging the gap between mind and brain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I like trying to solve problems about the mind: Is the mind just the brain? What is consciousness, and where is it in the brain? What happens in the brain during aesthetic experience? Why are we prone to self-deception? In approaching these questions, I don’t limit myself to one discipline or set of techniques. These mental phenomena, and the problems that surround them, do not hew to our disciplinary boundaries. In spite of this, someone needs to collect, analyze, and assess information relevant to the problems—which is in many different formats—and build theories designed to make sense of it. During that time, more data will become available, so back you go.

William's book list on bridging the gap between mind and brain

William Hirstein Why did William love this book?

V. S. Ramachandran is a gifted experimentalist and writer who does not hesitate to pursue deep and important questions about our minds. Rather than employing expensive imaging or large sample sizes, he is more likely to use a cardboard box, an old stereopticon, or a rubber hand in his experiments. 

His creativity in finding concrete ways to test seemingly vague but interesting claims about our minds has led to several breakthroughs, in our understanding of phantom limbs and our ability to treat phantom pain, and also in our study or synesthesia—cases in which people see numbers as having colors, for example.

As I can attest, he is able to transmit to his students the idea that pursuing scientific questions can thrilling, fulfilling, and so much fun that you can’t wait to get to work in the morning.

By V.S. Ramachandran,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Tell-Tale Brain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this landmark work, V. S. Ramachandran investigates strange, unforgettable cases-from patients who believe they are dead to sufferers of phantom limb syndrome. With a storyteller's eye for compelling case studies and a researcher's flair for new approaches to age-old questions, Ramachandran tackles the most exciting and controversial topics in brain science, including language, creativity, and consciousness.


Book cover of The New Mind Readers: What Neuroimaging Can and Cannot Reveal about Our Thoughts

Mark Bartholomew Author Of Intellectual Property and the Brain: How Neuroscience Will Reshape Legal Protection for Creations of the Mind

From my list on how neuroscience will change our lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a law professor who has been teaching and writing in the area of intellectual property for 20 years. As my career went along, I came to realize how important it is to not just mechanically apply the legal rules but to think about why they are there. Intellectual property law—a 7 trillion-dollar legal regime governing one-third of the U.S. economy—continually guesses as to how the minds of artists and audiences work. The more I read about neuroscientific advances, the more I realized that these guesses are often wrong and need to be updated for a new technological age.

Mark's book list on how neuroscience will change our lives

Mark Bartholomew Why did Mark love this book?

This book does a great job of describing what is possible and what is not when it comes to neuroscience. Poldrack, a professor of psychology at Stanford, makes sure we don’t lose the forest for the trees, boiling down the basics of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in a way that anyone can understand. He is particularly strong on describing about how this technology might be used outside of university laboratories, discussing potential applications in law, advertising, and treatment of mental illness.

By Russell A. Poldrack,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The New Mind Readers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A revealing insider's account of the power-and limitations-of functional MRI

The ability to read minds has long been a fascination of science fiction, but revolutionary new brain-imaging methods are bringing it closer to scientific reality. The New Mind Readers provides a compelling look at the origins, development, and future of these extraordinary tools, revealing how they are increasingly being used to decode our thoughts and experiences-and how this raises sometimes troubling questions about their application in domains such as marketing, politics, and the law.

Russell Poldrack takes readers on a journey of scientific discovery, telling the stories of the visionaries…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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