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text 2018-05-10 11:26
Reading progress update: I've read 43 out of 352 pages.
Sleepyhead: Narcolepsy, Neuroscience and the Search for a Good Night - Henry Nicholls

Early in - not even up to chapter 2 yet, but so far, it's really good.  I have a vested interest in the subject, but the author states up front that the book is aimed at investigating general sleep disorders, not just narcolepsy, and so far, this is proving to be the case.

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review 2015-02-22 15:43
Changing Your Mind
Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience - Michael S. Gazzaniga
The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity - Norman Doidge

“I’m of two minds,” we say. Or, “I changed my mind.” These phrases roll casually off the tongue, but we don’t mean them literally. Maybe we should, according to two new books that explore the fascinating history and tantalizing future of neuroscience.


Are you primarily right-brained or left-brained? You might think you know, but Michael S. Gazzaniga is here to tell you it’s not that simple. Gazzaniga pioneered split-brain research with his colleagues at the California Institute of Technology in the 1960s. In Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience, he details the experiments that led us to talk about the brain’s two hemispheres in the first place. Filled with scientific luminaries like psychobiologist Roger W. Sperry and theoretical physicist Richard Feynman, Tales from Both Sides of the Brain takes us back to the intellectually energetic laboratories of Caltech. In scenes that read like episodes of “The Big Bang Theory”—intellectual energy abounds—we sit in on experiments done with split-brain patients, whose brains’ hemispheres had been surgically separated to treat epilepsy.


More at BookPage: http://bookpage.com/features/17772-making-up-your-mind-brain-body-working-together#.VOi0qy4YEm0


Source: bookpage.com/features/17772-making-up-your-mind-brain-body-working-together#.VOi0qy4YEm0
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url 2014-12-18 08:27
Ted recommended books
A Room of One's Own, and Three Guineas - Virginia Woolf
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - Steven Pinker
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary - Simon Winchester
Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman
The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone--Especially Ourselves - Dan Ariely
From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation - Gene Sharp
Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything - Daniel Goleman
Origins of Neuroscience: A History of Explorations into Brain Function - Stanley Finger

Added to a few books that I've read and like. Which either confirmed that these books are the new list of must read, or that just are most popular books the writer could remember.


Nevertheless, these are really good books. Most of them I read, few are on my to-read pile.


A year already. And I still got a few dozens books that need to read. But these are going to jump the queue and go on the front of line.


Why? Human need to understand better about human and the system we live in. We could no longer afford to be ignorant. 


Time is pressing. 

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review 2014-09-29 00:00
The Myth of Mirror Neurons: The Real Neuroscience of Communication and Cognition
The Myth of Mirror Neurons: The Real Neuroscience of Communication and Cognition - Gregory Hickok You get two things with this book. You get an incredible interesting exposition on the workings of the mind (consciousness) and a narrative that ties that story together by showing how mirror neurons almost certainly aren't what you thought they were.

The author does not reject the existence of mirror neurons in humans, but he does poke holes in most of what you probably have been told about them in a host of other books and articles. He gives very nuanced arguments to how the available data doesn't always mean what mirror neuron experts say they do. The author is an expert in the understanding of how we communicate. He'll delve into the "motor theory of speech" and how that deservedly fell out of disrepute over time and was resurrected only because that gave mirror neurons such a central role. The results of various experiments supporting that hypothesis are not always best explained by the ways mirror neuron advocates claim and sometimes they ignore the better explanations.

This is a real strength of the book. While showing how better explanations for the experiments and data are available which don't excessively rely on mirror neurons the author never shies way from educating the listener on the embodied processes of thinking.

I love neuroscience and books about the workings of the mind and human behavior. While reading such books, mirror neurons kept popping up in sections of those books, but over time, I started to realize that the advocates for the magical workings of the mirror neurons did not always make sense and there seemed to be better explanations available. This book tells me why my caution radar was beeping.

I'm sure a lot of experts in the field probably hate this book, but I can recommend this book because it will teach the listener to be cautious about mirror neuron claims, and help the listener learn a little bit more about the way the brain works without overwhelming the listener with too many names of brain parts which I only end up forgetting.
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review 2014-07-07 01:59
Review: The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons, by Sam Kean
The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: And Other True Stories of Trauma, Madness, Affliction, and Recovery That Reveal the Surprising History of the Human Brain - Sam Kean

When I went to Town Hall last month to hear a lecture on scientifically important case studies of brain damage, I had no idea that the speaker would be the author of The Disappearing Spoon and The Violinist's Thumb, two of my recent favorite pop-science books.  It was a pleasant surprise not only to hear Sam Kean speak, but to get ahold of his latest book, The Dueling Neurosurgeons ("The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery").


I was expecting this to follow in the footsteps of Oliver Sacks, albeit from a lay writer's perspective and featuring Kean's entertaining, conversational style.  And I really wasn't wrong, but I still left the book feeling vaguely disappointed.  It took me awhile to figure out why.


There is this trend in modern non-fiction to strain out all the boring parts like context and details in favor of wacky or funny stories.  Certainly, there is plenty in science and history that is wacky and funny, and for subjects I don't know much about and/or am not too terribly interested in, this kind of book is an entertaining way to glean some new information.  For instance, I find chemistry pretty dry, so The Disappearing Spoon was perfect for me.  I am interested in genetics, but am hardly an expert, so The Violinist's Thumb sat fine with me, though I wished it had been meatier.  


But I'm very interested in neuroscience and have been reading about it in some detail for many years.  So the superficial focus of The Dueling Neurosurgeons grated on me a bit.  It's not that none of the information was new to me - many of the case studies were unfamiliar, and others I'd known about but not in any detail - but for subjects I actually care about, I'd prefer a book be scientific first and wacky/funny second.  In other words, I'd like an informative framework that gives me a deep understanding of the subject, with the fun stuff sprinkled in.  I don't like a framework of weird stories, with some theory thrown in to back them up.  If Kean couldn't find a weird story to illustrate a point, the point didn't get made.  And that kind of shit annoys me.


Still, who doesn't like a weird story?  Like the girl who lost her amygdala and so became incapable of feeling fear - it was interesting to read about how she reacted to things that would terrify an average person.  Or the horrifying story of kuru - colonialism, cannibalism, pedophilia, horrific brain damage, and lethal laughing fits - all wrapped up into one appalling whole.


So this book scratches that itch I sometimes get for "beach-read nonfiction".  I truly did enjoy it, but it was like licking off the frosting and leaving the cake untouched.  Frosting is wonderful, you know, but it's so much better with some tasty cake to give it structure.


(2014 #27)

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