In his recent book "A Portrait Of the Brain" neurologist Adam Zeman seeks to explore the brain all the way from its atoms to the soul. He does this Oliver Sacks-style, by discussing patients he has encountered, one of whom, for example, manifests psychological problems which are caused by a simple, yet devastating DNA abnormality, while another suffers physical problems (blackouts) which are actually psychological in their origin.
Now you can hear Zeman (mp3) discussing case examples from his book, via an audio recording from a recent seminar he gave at the Royal Society of Arts in London. He runs out of time before getting to grips with the soul, but fortunately an audience member asks him about this approximately 33 mins into the recording. Zeman's view is that we won't ever find the answer to what it feels like to be human by only looking in the brain. "The brain is an instrument, it's not the sole source" he says (I think the pun was unintended). This is a view shared by Professor Ray Tallis, who was chairing the lecture and whose new book Kingdom of Infinite Space deals with this very issue. Tallis has also given an RSA lecture recently and I'll post here when the audio becomes available.
Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.
Link to audio of Zeman's lecture (mp3).
Link to Adam Zeman.
Link to publisher's website for A Portrait of the Brain.