I’ve mentioned V. S. Ramachandran before when noting some data points about Mirror Neurons. He is a prolific speaker, researcher and writer, and on the Advisory Board of Scientific American MIND, a magazine that seeks to inform while making emerging brain science accesible.
Ramachandran and his wife, Diane Rogers-Ramachandran, write Illusions, a regular column for Scientific American Mind. Their August/September 2007 column, It’s All Done with Mirrors, discusses how they made use of a mirror box to help people finally disengage from phantom limbs – limbs that have been amputated but still felt paralyzed and painful – even though the individual logically knew that the limb was no longer attached.
I’ve also mentioned TED Talks before (ah, the interconnectedness of it all) and in this TED Talk, Vilayanur Ramachandran: A journey to the center of your mind, he explains three curious brain mashups, including phamtom limbs, prosopagnosia (inability to recognize faces), and synesthesia (where senses merge together, for example, seeing the number six as vivid blue).
If you thought the amygdala was a small component of the brain, now you can learn about the insula, mentioned several times by Ramachandran in his TED Talk. The insula and amygdala communicate with one another in the process of dealing with understanding your own emotions. In February, 2007, the New York Times talked up the insula in the article A Small Part of the Brain, and Its Profound Effects. (Stick with it till the advert passes.)
Creativity was a tag earlier this year in the March, 2007 TED Talks, and Ramachandran concluded his talk with a tidbit involving creativity, synesthesia, metaphor, and how artists, poets and musicians see the world. Don’t take my word for it – go listen to his talk!