Vilayanur Subramanian Ramachandran is not a name that rolls off the tongue. Perhaps this is the reason its owner is not as well known by the general public as his fellow neurologist and friend Oliver Sacks. But within the sciences he is seen as one of the great pioneers of our time. In an often-quoted description, Richard Dawkins once wrote: "Ramachandran is a latterday Marco Polo, journeying the Silk Road of science to strange and exotic Cathays of the mind." Such is his reputation for pushing back the boundaries of neuroscience that Newsweek magazine identified him among the "100 most prominent people to watch" in the 21st century.