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Ramachandran's Notebook Go to "Ramachandran's Notebook"

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From Ramachandran's Notebook

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.

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The non-introductory portions of this article were excerpted with permission from Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind, by V.S. Ramachandran and Sandra Blakeslee (Quill/William Morrow, 1998).

Photos: Corbis Images

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