Raj Persaud talks to Timothy Verstynen about his new book on what Zombies can teach us about the brain, co-authored with Bradley Voytek
Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?
A Neuroscientific View of the Zombie Brain
Timothy Verstynen & Bradley Voytek
Winner of the 2015 PROSE Award in Biomedicine & Neuroscience, Association of American Publishers
Hardcover | 2014 | $19.95/ £13.95 | ISBN: 9780691157283
Even if you’ve never seen a zombie movie or television show, you could identify an undead ghoul if you saw one. With their endless wandering, lumbering gait, insatiable hunger, antisocial behavior, and apparently memory-less existence, zombies are the walking nightmares of our deepest fears. What do these characteristic behaviors reveal about the inner workings of the zombie mind? Could we diagnose zombism as a neurological condition by studying their behavior? In Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?, neuroscientists and zombie enthusiasts Timothy Verstynen and Bradley Voytek apply their neuro-know-how to dissect the puzzle of what has happened to the zombie brain to make the undead act differently than their human prey.
Combining tongue-in-cheek analysis with modern neuroscientific principles, Verstynen and Voytek show how zombism can be understood in terms of current knowledge regarding how the brain works. In each chapter, the authors draw on zombie popular culture and identify a characteristic zombie behavior that can be explained using neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and brain-behavior relationships. Through this exploration they shed light on fundamental neuroscientific questions such as: How does the brain function during sleeping and waking? What neural systems control movement? What is the nature of sensory perception?
Walking an ingenious line between seriousness and satire, Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep? leverages the popularity of zombie culture in order to give readers a solid foundation in neuroscience.
Timothy Verstynen is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and at the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition at Carnegie Mellon University. Bradley Voytek is assistant professor of computational cognitive science and neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego. They are both members of the Zombie Research Society and are preparing grant applications to research the coming zombie apocalypse.
"If you've ever wondered which pathologies are responsible for the stiff and murderous personalities of zombies, this actual scientific explainer is the book for you."--Mental Floss
"Verstynen and Voytek's entertaining book uses zombies to help illustrate human neuroscience. . . . Zombie fans will want this book, and anyone concerned with neuroscience will find the topic made accessible by this lighthearted exploration."--Library Journal
"Neuroscientists and zombie enthusiasts Timothy Verstynen and Bradley Voytek have recently come out with a new book called Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?, in which they apply their neuroscience backgrounds to an investigation of the undead. It's filled with pages of increasingly nerdy explorations of zombie behavior, and I highly recommend it, but what really caught my eye was the authors' conclusion: All the walking dead have Consciousness Deficit Hypoactivity Disorder, or CDHD."--Kyle Hill, Nerdist
"Voytek and Verstynen serve up an introduction to neuroscience but through the guise of zombies. Each chapter tackles a different zombie behavior and breaks it down through the current neuroscientific understanding of it. It's a kind of Neuroscience 101 that tackles complex ideas in a fun, enjoyable manner."--KPBS.org
"[Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep? is] a quick, cheeky read told by the sort of people who toss out punchlines while watching films such as 28 Days Later and World War Z."--Gary Robbins, U-T San Diego
"[Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?] is smart, informative, historically riveting, well referenced, and like all good zombie stories, wonderfully fun. . . . If you want a sophisticated primer of neuroscience, coupled with a Halloween spin, then there can be no other book."--Steven C. Schlozman, Science
The interview on the neuroscience of zombies can be listened to on a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links