Brain, Mind & Neuroscience

Can anyone here refer me to some books recently written that explains the difference between the brain and the mind? If I’m understanding the topic correctly, we are to believe that the brain and mind are entirely two different entities, yet, with the little I know about neuroscience, and I’ll admit, I know very little, this seems to be an impossibility. I’m trying to understand this and am doing a poor job of it. :o

I have always understood that the brain is the physical substrate in one’s head; while one’s mind is the thought process that resides there.

Your brain contains cells, blood vessels, synapses etc.

Your mind consists of thoughts, memories, cognitions, perceptions, etc.

They are not the same but one requires the other.

I can’t think of any book that describes their difference, because they are often tassumed to be the same.


Michael Gazzaniga is the father of the field referred to as cognitive neuroscience, which explores the mutual influences between the processes of the mind (cognitive psychology) and those of the brain (neuroscience). You might want to check out his several books. One I recommend is called “Who’s in Charge: Free Will and the Science of the Brain.”

Here’s a great article about the subject at hand,

Philosophy of Mind: A Beginner’s Guide by Ed Feser.

I recommend the book, The Blank Slate, by Steven Pinker. Prof. Pinker explores three areas: The so-called Blank Slate (the mind has no innate traits), the Noble Savage (people are born good and corrupted by society) and the Ghost in The Machine (each of us has a soul that makes choices free from biology). While this work is scholarly, it is written for the layperson and is a very enjoyable read with Prof. Pinker’s subtle humor throughout.

Do you have a definite reason or is it just a hunch?

Inanimate objects and living organisms seem to be two different dimensions of reality. So why not a third: matter, life and mind?

Materialists argue that it is more economical to regard matter as the basic reality but it is equally economical - and far more reasonable - to regard mind as the prime factor.

Thought is more significant than the absence of thought!

I also enjoyed Pinker’s book, The Blank Slate.

Not really. These are not separate dimensions; they piggyback on each other.

Without matter, there is no life. There can be no “living nothing.”. Life requires the classical elements of nature: Earth, air, water and energy (not quite “fire”). Take any of those away and life ends.

Without both matter and life, there is no mind. There can be no “thinking nothing,” either. Nor does a dead human body express a mind.

Mind piggybacks on life, which piggybacks on matter; they are not independent.


Although it has a very definite, and very noticeable, bias, as evidenced by the title of the book itself. (Note, that I didn’t finish it.)

The problem is how – and why - they succeeded in piggybacking! :wink:

Do you start with the pig at the bottom, the pig in the middle or the pig at the top?

Or the Creator of all three? I suggest the latter…

And then the question arises: “Why three rather than one or more?” :wink:

This topic is pretty confusing for me, but, having said that, what is everyone’s opinion of this? Accurate? No?

I suspect that if we understood the brain as well as, say, the motions of planets, we would find ourselves in a similar situation to Laplace. If it were noted “you have written this large book on the system of the -]universe/-] brain, and have never even mentioned its -]Creator/-] mind.” We would very likely find that we had “no need of that hypothesis.”

Doesn’t the vast majority of neurologists and scientists insist that the mind and brain are the same?

I have M.S. and next week I’ll have to go in for another MRI. I doubt my neurologist would claim that anything found this time around doesn’t affect brain function.

I mean, the brain is where all action and the ability to think comes from, right?


Of course it is.

But the “mind” is not a synonym for the brain. The second is physical, the first is not.


Modern medicine treats not only the symptoms but the person as a whole. Very often physical illness is related to psychological problems which may not be the sole cause but are a contributing factor. I know one man who died because he was convinced he had cancer of the stomach which didn’t exist!

The action and the ability to think come from the mind which controls the brain.

Wow; if the cancer did not exist, how could it kill him?

When it comes to raw aliveness, our bodies are often wiser than our minds.


His obsession killed him within a few months because he convinced himself he was going to die and neglected himself.

This occurred in a psychiatric hospital where I discovered (not as a patient!) that anyone can have a “mental breakdown” when subjected to sufficient stress. The power of negative thinking can be as destructive as positive thinking is creative. The role of the mind is seriously neglected in our materialistic society.

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