Can a brain scan tell what's on your mind? Can your mind change your brain? And what is this thing called consciousness? Over the past week or so, cerebral subjects like these been popping up in a variety of contexts: Researchers report that they can indeed analyze magnetic-resonance readings to guess what experimental subjects intend to do before they do it (shades of precrime!). Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal's Sharon Begley discusses her new book, "Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain," with Earth & Sky. (You can read a PDF excerpt on National Public Radio's Science Friday Web site.) And The New Yorker profiles the work of consciousness researchers Patricia and Paul Churchland. (You'll have to check out that article at the library; it's not online.)
If you're into the whole scientific debate over consciousness, you could preorder next month's scheduled release of Douglas Hofstadter's latest book, "I Am a Strange Loop." But in the meantime, get an overview on the topic by checking out Susan Blackmore's "Conversations on Consciousness," a series of interviews with top philosophers and neuroscientists. Let's call this January's belated selection for the Cosmic Log Used-Book Club, our monthly effort to highlight books with cosmic themes that can usually be found at your local library or secondhand-book shop.
Post your suggestions for this month's CLUB Club selection, and if I choose yours as the next cosmic book of the month, I'll send you either Richard Restak's "The New Brain" or Peter Ward's "Life as We Do Not Know It."