Sunday, September 2, 2007

V. S. Ramachandran on the History of Truth and Science

V. S. Ramachandran is one of my favorite scientists and thinkers. I first learned about him on Ramachandran's Notebook from PBS.

You can visit the web site here:

Here is an excerpt from the site about his work and revolutionary discoveries.

Vilayanur Ramachandran has been called a Sherlock Holmes of neuroscience. Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego, and adjunct professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, Ramachandran has brilliantly sleuthed his way through some of the strangest maladies of the human mind. He has done this by marrying simple tools such as mirrors and cotton swabs with an insatiably inquisitive mind and a tonic sense of humor.

One of the areas in which he has made some of his greatest strides is in the arena of phantom limbs, in which amputees and even those born without one or more limbs feel pain and other sensations in their missing body parts. Here, read Ramachandran's vivid descriptions of his experiences with phantom-limb patients and how he has managed to understand their singular dilemmas and thereby help them.

Here is a lecture in which he discusses phantom limb syndrome, synesthesia, and neuron innervation.


For a great interview with him in which he discusses Galieo's contribution to the concept of experiment and investigation, and how Aristotle took too much for granted without evidence, visit the Science Network:

If it is no longer on the home page, click here for the medium quality version:

Phantom Limb Syndrome

Phantom limbs are a very fascinating subject! The discovery that Ramachandran made was that pepole who had limbs amputated or severed would sometimes "feel" them still present. To make a long story short, he figured out how the brain fools us. He also figured out how to map sensations on particular parts of the body to specific places inside the brain.

You can learn more about phantom limb syndrome here:


Synesthesia is another fascinating condition. In this condition, people get their senses confused. They may smell colors, or taste shapes. It's very confusing, but it all has traces into brain activity.

Learn more about synesthesia here:

Beyond Belief 2006 Symposium

Dr. Ramachandran participated in the 2006 Beyond Belief symposium, a gathering of prominent intellectuals discussing the state of the public understanding of science and religion. You can watch all the footage of the symposium on this web site:

Here are several excerpts from Ramachandran's time at the podium:

Seizure-Induced Religious Experiences

Some other clips of Ramachandran

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