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Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life (2004)
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Wikipedia in English
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743241665, Paperback)Given the opportunity to watch the inner workings of his own brain, Steven Johnson jumps at the chance. He reveals the results in Mind Wide Open, an engaging and personal account of his foray into edgy brain science. In the 21st century, Johnson observes, we have become used to ideas such as "adrenaline rushes" and "serotonin levels," without really recognizing that complex neurobiology has become a commonplace thing to talk about. He sees recent laboratory revelations about the brain as crucial for understanding ourselves and our psyches in new, post-Freudian ways. Readers shy about slapping electrodes on their own temples can get a vicarious scientific thrill as Johnson tries out empathy tests, neurofeedback, and fMRI scans. The results paint a distinct picture of the author, and uncover general brain secrets at the same time. Memory, fear, love, alertness--all the multitude of states housed in our brains are shown to be the results of chemical and electrical interactions constantly fed and changed by input from our senses. Mind Wide Open both satisfies curiosity and provokes more questions, leaving readers wondering about their own gray matter. --Therese Littleton
(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 05 Apr 2011 11:16:57 -0400)
Using a mix of experiential reportage, personal storytelling, and fresh scientific discovery, Steven Johnson describes how the brain works-its chemicals, structures, and subroutines-and how these systems connect to the day-to-day realities of individual lives. For a hundred years, he says, many of us have assumed that the most powerful route to self-knowledge took the form of lying on a couch, talking about our childhoods. The possibility entertained in this book is that you can follow another path, in which learning about the brain's mechanics can widen one's self-awareness as powerfully as any therapy or meditation or drug. In Mind Wide Open, Johnson embarks on this path as his own test subject, participating in a battery of attention tests, learning to control video games by altering his brain waves, scanning his own brain with a $2 million fMRI machine, all in search of a modern answer to the oldest of questions: who am I? Along the way, Johnson explores how we "read" other people, how the brain processes frightening events (and how we might rid ourselves of the scars those memories leave), what the neurochemistry is behind love and sex, what it means that our brains are teeming with powerful chemicals closely related to recreational drugs, why music moves us to tears, and where our breakthrough ideas come from. Johnson's clear, engaging explanation of the physical functions of the brain reveals not only the broad strokes of our aptitudes and fears, our skills and weaknesses and desires, but also the momentary brain phenomena that a whole human life comprises. Why, when hearing a tale of woe, do we sometimes smile inappropriately, even if we don't want to? Why are some of us so bad at remembering phone numbers but brilliant at recognizing faces? Why does depression make us feel stupid? To read Mind Wide Open is to rethink family histories, individual fates, and the very nature of the self, and to see that brain science is now personally transformative-a valuable tool for better relationships and better living.
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