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 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.
"In Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?, Verstynen and Voytek expertly unravel the mysteries of the zombie brain. Equal parts entertaining and informative, this important and brilliant must-read just might save the world someday. I gobbled it up like a zombie eating brains!"--Matt Mogk, author of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Zombies
"Verstynen and Voytek have written an entertaining and accessible book that uses the zombie brain to illustrate some of the key principles of neuroscience. Get your teeth into it!"--Mo Costandi, neuroscience blogger for the Guardian
"For too long, neuroscientists have stood on the sidelines while other disciplines have ravenously studied the zombie menace. With this book, Verstynen and Voytek alter that trend and significantly advance the scholarship of the undead. It’s about time that humans showed interest in the zombie brain--and not vice versa."--Daniel Drezner, author of Theories of International Politics and Zombies
"A fascinating look at the living brain through the behavior of the fictional undead. Written by respected neuroscientists with a zombie fixation, this is an engaging and light-hearted neuroscience course with a serious point."--Vaughan Bell, King’s College London
"Using zombies from popular film to introduce a broad range of neuroscience concepts, this book argues that we can understand the various features of zombie behavior through the lens of neurological and neuroscientific evidence. Fun and engaging, Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep? will appeal to a broad readership."--Russell Poldrack, University of Texas, Austin