What does Proust have to do with brain science? Plenty, say two books.
Proust Was a Neuroscientist
by Jonah Lehrer
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In a mesmerizing film clip from 1975, the British anatomist John Zachary Young dissects a squid just smaller than his forearm. (The clip can be seen online at http://www.science.smith.edu/departments/NeuroSci/courses/bio330/squid.html.) Young wields a pair of shears with considerable brio as he cuts open the mantle cavity and uncovers the nerves that radiate, starlike, beneath the skin. Some forty years earlier, shortly before he first identified the squid giant axon, Young had mistaken these transparent tubular structures (as much as a millimeter in diameter) for blood vessels, but in fact they turned out to be nerve fibers, mammoth axons whose stimulation with electrodes makes the squid’s entire body contract. Young’s discovery contributed directly to the experimental work on electrical impulses and nerve
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