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The Mind's Eye by Oliver Sacks

The Mind's Eye (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Oliver Sacks

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893419,888 (3.69)30
Title:The Mind's Eye
Authors:Oliver Sacks
Info:Knopf (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:non-fiction, minds and brains, health and medicine, read in 2012

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The Mind's Eye by Oliver Sacks (2010)

Recently added byaanthoni, michaelstevens, wlander, mbecken, trandism, booksandblintzee, private library, Cesalpino
  1. 00
    Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See by Donald D. Hoffman (librorumamans)
    librorumamans: By means of many illustrations, Hoffman lays out some of the rules by which our brains interpret what our eyes see.
  2. 00
    The Man Who Forgot How to Read: A Memoir by Howard Engel (SylviaC)
    SylviaC: The Mind's Eye includes a chapter about Howard Engel, and Oliver Sacks provides an afterword to The Man Who Forgot How to Read

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In The Mind's Eye, noted neurologist and author Oliver Sacks writes about a variety of brain functions and dysfunctions (especially those caused suddenly and unexpectedly, such as after a stroke), with a particular focus on those that affect visual sensation or perception in some manner. Sacks does so by discussing the case histories of patients he treated over the years. For instance, one man - an author by trade - loses his ability to read the written word. Another woman gains the ability to see stereoscopically after years of seeing everything as flat. Sacks uses these case studies and others as jumping off places to delve into additional research on each of these subjects, supplying a lot of history and neuroscience to further explain the phenomenon he sees in each of his cases, so the reader comes away better informed.

I found this particular book so interesting because Sacks interjects so much about himself into this one. For example, he talks about his own struggles with "face blindness," a condition in which he (and others with it) can hardly recognize a person by their facial features, even people close to them such as family members, co-workers, or neighbors. He describes being unable or easily confused in recognizing even his own face at times. Another lengthy section of the book - written in a journal style - covers Sacks's loss of vision in one eye after dealing with a tumor.

It is very interesting to read about how the various patients covered in this book learn to live with their neurological dysfunctions and regain at least some sense of normalcy in their lives, especially given that so many of these issues occur as a result of a trauma later in life. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? However, there are also really rather sad consequences, such as one patient who Sacks sees progressively worsen over time. All in all, this was a fascinating read, especially for those interested in psychology, neuroscience, or just learning more about the human condition. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Apr 30, 2016 |
Oliver Sacks is a neurologist who discusses a number of his patients who have lost or gained certain brain function due to health conditions mostly. Some had lost the ability to recognize certain everyday objects or even people. Others had lost some or all of their sight. For some, they adapted in new ways and their brains developed new or enhanced abilities, such as, being able to visually see, very clearly in their minds, objects or a scene and rotate it to see different perspectives.

What I enjoyed most was learning how the patients lived and adapted. I learned that the people who worked at learning how to adapt in new ways were more likely to develop new brain abilities. There was quite a lot of medical explanation, which sometimes made it feel like a textbook. Overall, I liked it. ( )
  gaylebutz | Apr 14, 2016 |
Interesting but not riveting. ( )
  lkarr | Feb 6, 2016 |
Not as interesting as I hoped it would be. ( )
  Superenigmatix | Jan 16, 2016 |
Another collection of case studies by Sacks. This time it is more personal - he is one of the cases, but also in being more open and candid about himself and life.
The case studies are varied:
1. The musician who loses the ability to read music, and later, the ability to read writing - alexia. The subject shows extraordinary capacity to cope.
2. The socially active woman who loses speech (aphasia) after a stroke, but again shows extraordinary capacity to cope and regain an active social and family life.
3. The author who loses the ability to read, but can still write (alexia sine agraphia) who has been able to go on and publish further novels and memoirs.
4. Face-blindness (prosopagnosia) in Sacks and others.
5. Stereo vision gained by a person who had lacked the capacity for it, and who remains, years later, overwhelmed with the joy of depth
6. The loss of stereo vision by Sacks as a result of treatment for a melanoma tumour at the back of his right eye.
7. The final chapter looks at the experiences of a number of people who lost vision - one who then lost the ability to form ental images, contrasted with many others who did the opposite and formed amazing mental images, almost over-compensating.
All fascinating stuff, and more poignant by the knowledge revealed in Sacks later memoir and his recent death.
Read Nov 2015. ( )
1 vote mbmackay | Nov 25, 2015 |
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Mr. Brain can be a demon from hell when it decides to turn against its body.
added by WeeklyAlibi | editWeekly Alibi, John Bear (Nov 18, 2010)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307272087, Hardcover)

In The Mind’s Eye, Oliver Sacks tells the stories of people who are able to navigate the world and communicate with others despite losing what many of us consider indispensable senses and abilities: the power of speech, the capacity to recognize faces, the sense of three-dimensional space, the ability to read, the sense of sight. For all of these people, the challenge is to adapt to a radically new way of being in the world.

There is Lilian, a concert pianist who becomes unable to read music and is eventually unable even to recognize everyday objects, and Sue, a neurobiologist who has never seen in three dimensions, until she suddenly acquires stereoscopic vision in her fifties.

There is Pat, who reinvents herself as a loving grandmother and active member of her community, despite the fact that she has aphasia and cannot utter a sentence, and Howard, a prolific novelist who must find a way to continue his life as a writer even after a stroke destroys his ability to read.

And there is Dr. Sacks himself, who tells the story of his own eye cancer and the bizarre and disconcerting effects of losing vision to one side.

Sacks explores some very strange paradoxes—people who can see perfectly well but cannot recognize their own children, and blind people who become hyper-visual or who navigate by “tongue vision.” He also considers more fundamental questions: How do we see? How do we think? How important is internal imagery—or vision, for that matter? Why is it that, although writing is only five thousand years old, humans have a universal, seemingly innate, potential for reading?

The Mind’s Eye
is a testament to the complexity of vision and the brain and to the power of creativity and adaptation. And it provides a whole new perspective on the power of language and communication, as we try to imagine what it is to see with another person’s eyes, or another person’s mind.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:01 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Includes stories of people who are able to navigate the world and communicate with others despite losing what many of us consider indispensable senses and faculties: the power of speech, the capacity to recognize faces, the sense of three-dimensional space, the ability to read, and the sense of sight. This book is a testament to the complexity of vision and the brain and to the power of creativity and adaptation, and it provides a whole new perspective on the power of language and communication, as we try to imagine what it is to perceive through another person's eyes, or another person's mind.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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