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Patron: Her Majesty the Queen


The Royal Scottish Society of Arts
Showcasing Scotland's Science, Technology and Innovation

6th Meeting of the 188th Session (2008-2009)

A Portrait of the Brain

Prof Adam Zeman DM FRCP
Professor of Cognitive and Behavioural Neurology
Peninsula Medical School

In the Augustine United Church
41 George IV Bridge
Edinburgh, EH1 1EL
On Monday 23rd March 2009, at 7pm

Prof Zeman will explain that his book "A Portrait of the Brain" (Yale, 2008) is an attempt to show that — and how — we are simultaneously physical systems, living creatures and conscious minds, and to trace the continuities between these three levels of our being. The book builds from physics, through biology, to the mind, level by level. It does so with the help of Hippocrates' three elements of medicine — patient, doctor and disease: each chapter is illustrated with a personal story, the narrative of someone's illness or predicament; each chapter describes the process, sometimes embarrassing, sometimes fulfilling, by which the patient's doctor reached a diagnosis; and each chapter uses the patient's illness as a means of entry to the science relevant to that level of description (following Joni Mitchell's dictum, anticipated by William Harvey — "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone".) He will briefly outline the stories told in the course of the book and read two or three brief extracts . He will close by explaining that, fascinating as brain science is proving to be, we will need to look beyond the brain (to our bodies, and our physical and cultural environments) for a complete understanding of human experience.

Prof Zeman trained in Medicine Oxford University Medical School, after a first degree in Philosophy and Psychology. He received my neurological training in Oxford, London and Cambridge. He moved to Edinburgh in 1996, as a Consultant Neurologist and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences. Between February 2003 and August 2004 he was supported by a Health Foundation Mid-Career Award, with the aim of "building bridges between neurology, psychology and psychiatry". His specialised clinical work is in cognitive and behavioural neurology, including neurological disorders of sleep. His research interests include amnesia associated with epilepsy, the cognitive and neuropsychiatric consequences of cerebellar disease and disorders of visual imagery. He has an active background interest in the science and philosophy of consciousness, publishing a wide-ranging review of the field in Brain (2001;124:1263-1289) and an accessible introduction to the subject, intended for a general readership (Consciousness: a user's guide, Yale University Press, 2002). He moved to the Peninsula Medical School in September 2005. He has recently written an introduction to neurology for the general reader, "A Portrait of the Brain" (Yale, 2008). He is Chairman of the British Neuropsychiatry Association from 2007-2009.

Location of meeting

Society Business

The President, Robin Harper MSP, will be in the Chair

Members of the Public are welcome to attend

Jane Ridder-Patrick, Secretary
Telephone: 0131 556 2161

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