crowyhead, September 15, 2006 (view all comments by crowyhead)
This is a really excellent look at how neuroscience relates to our everyday emotional lives. One of the most interesting bits to me was the discussion of the way that we remember trauma. Research now shows that a lot of conventional wisdom about trauma is flat-out wrong; in particularly, this book suggests that if "talking out" a traumatic event reproduces the fear response (increased heart rate, etc.), it may cause the fear produced by the memories to become more firmly etched, not less. This means that talk therapy might not actually be the most effective treatment for survivors, especially if the trauma is recent.
It can be kind of eerie to realize that so much of what we experience emotionally is related to chemicals flowing about in your brain, but I found it fascinating. I'm pretty used to the idea in some ways already, since I take medication to control my depression, but this book has really sparked my interest and I'm planning on seeking out some of the books that he mentions in his excellent footnotes.
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Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life
Used Trade Paper
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Scribner Book Company -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"It's the rare popular science book that not only gives the reader a gee-whiz glimpse at an emerging field, but also offers a guide for incorporating its new insights into one's own worldview....Johnson weaves disparate strands of brain research and theory smoothly into the narrative...which leaves readers' minds more open than they were." Publishers Weekly
by Steven Pinker, author of The Blank Slate and How the Mind Works,
"[A] lucid and engaging travelogue from the frontiers of human brain science."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"Celebrates the brain's complexity and wonder even as it demonstrates that you can get to know your mind better than you ever thought."
"Spreading a gospel to be curious about one's own mind, Johnson, aided by personal anecdotes about, for example, the length of his attention span, will snare even those unfamiliar with brain science."
Readers shy about slapping electrodes on their own temples can get a vicarious scientific thrill as the author tries out empathy tests, neurofeedback, and MRI scans. The results paint a distinct picture of the author and uncover general brain secrets at the same time.
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