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Proust was a Neuroscientist

Proust was a Neuroscientist

Jonah Lehrer


In this sparkling and provocative book, Jonah Lehrer explains that when it comes to understanding the brain, art got there first. Taking a group of celebrated writers, painters and composers, Lehrer shows us how artists have discovered truths about the human mind – real, tangible truths – that science is only now rediscovering. We learn, for example, how Proust first revealed the fallibility of memory; how George Eliot understood the brain’s malleability; how Cézanne worked out the subtleties of vision; and how Virginia Woolf pierced the misteries of consciousness. It’s a riveting tale of art trumping science again and again.

2007 (Ed. 2012)
Canongate Books


Jonah Lehrer

Jonah Richard Lehrer was born on June 25th, 1981, in the Los Feliz neighbourhood of Los Angeles. He graduated from North Hollywood High School. Lehrer majored in neuroscience at Columbia University, where he worked in the laboratory of Eric Kandel, “examining the biological process of memory and what happens in the brain on a molecular level when a person remembers or forgets information”. While at Columbia, Lehrer also contributed to the Columbia Review, and was its editor for two years. He was a 2003 Rhodes Scholarship recipient, supporting his study at Wolfson College at Oxford University, where he studied 20th century literature and philosophy (instead of philosophy, physiology, and psychology, which he had planned to study).


Lehrer has written for The New Yorker (from 2008 to 2012), Wired (from 2010 to 2012), Scientific American Mind (from 2008 to 2009), Grantland, The Wall Street Journal, and The Boston Globe, as well as the journal Nature, and Seed magazine. He was a contributing editor for a variety of publications, including Scientific American Mind (from 2009 to 2012) and Radiolab (38 episodes, from 2007 to 2012).


He is the author of three best-selling books: “Proust Was a Neuroscientist” (2007), “How We Decide” (2009), and “Imagine: How Creativity Works” (2012). The latter two were withdrawn from the market by their publishers after “internal review uncovered significant problems” with the books. These and other works by Lehrer were characterised as having misused quotes and facts, plagiarised press releases and authored work, and to have otherwise recycled earlier published work. Lehrer resigned from The New Yorker on July 30th, 2012, after accusations of fabricated Bob Dylan quotes in “Imagine” surfaced. On August 31st, 2012, the relationship between and the writer was also severed.

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