Synopses & Reviews
In this nationally bestselling, compulsively readable account of what makes brain science a vital component of people's quest to know themselves, acclaimed science writer Steven Johnson subjects his own brain to a battery of tests to find out what's really going on inside. He asks:
- How do we "read" other people?
- What is the neurochemistry behind love and sex?
- What does it mean that the brain is teeming with powerful chemicals closely related to recreational drugs?
- Why does music move us to tears?
- Where do breakthrough ideas come from?
Johnson answers these and many more questions arising from the events of our everyday lives. You do not have to be a neuroscientist to wonder, for example, why do you smile? And why do you sometimes smile inappropriately, even if you don't want to? How do others read your inappropriate smile? How does such interplay occur neurochemically, and what, if anything, can you do about it?
Fascinating and rewarding, Mind Wide Open speaks to brain buffs, self-obsessed neurotics, barstool psychologists, mystified parents, grumpy spouses, exasperated managers, and anyone who enjoys speculating and gossiping about the motivations and behaviors of other human beings. Steven Johnson shows us the transformative power of understanding brain science and offers new modes of introspection and tools for better parenting, better relationships, and better living.
"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
"[A] lucid and engaging travelogue from the frontiers of human brain science." Steven Pinker, author of The Blank Slate and How the Mind Works
"Celebrates the brain's complexity and wonder even as it demonstrates that you can get to know your mind better than you ever thought." Kirkus Reviews
"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." Booklist
Steven Pinker Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Blank Slate and How the Mind Works Mind Wide Open is a lucid and engaging travelogue from the frontiers of human brain science. Steven Johnson has an eye for the most interesting new ideas in this exploding field, and he explains them with insight and gusto.
John Horgan author of The Undiscovered Mind and Rational Mysticism My brain was tickled, fascinated, moved, surprised, and above all entertained by Steven Johnson's delightful tour through modern neuroscience.
David Shenk author of The Forgetting: Alzheimer's: Portrait of an Epidemic What good is living in an age of discovery if only a handful of people understand what's being discovered? With this book, Steven Johnson builds an extraordinary bridge between today's trailblazing neuroscientists and the rest of us. His mind-opening and potentially life-changing insight is that virtually anyone can now learn enough about brain chemistry and circuitry to personally explore -- and perhaps even reshape -- the contours of his or her own mind.
Howard Rheingold author of Smart Mobs Johnson's first-person account of the experiential and neuroscientific aspects of daily life is lucid, illuminating, entertaining, and thought-provoking. You'll find yourself thinking about thinking -- while you are thinking -- in a whole new way.
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.
About the Author
Steven Johnson is the bestselling author of Interface Culture, Emergence, and Everything Bad Is Good for You as well as a columnist for Discover and a contributing editor at Wired. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons, and can be reached via the Web at www.stevenberlinjohnson.com.
Table of Contents
Preface: Kafka¹s Room
- 1. Mind Sight
- 2. The Sum of My Fears
- 3. Your Attention, Please
- 4. Survival of the Ticklish
- 5. The Hormones Talking
- 6. Scan Thyself
- Conclusion: Mind Wide Open