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Hardcover States of Mind: New Discoveries about How Our Brains Make Us Who We Are Book

ISBN: 0471299634

ISBN13: 9780471299639

States of Mind: New Discoveries about How Our Brains Make Us Who We Are

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Book Overview

An all-star lineup of scientists takes you to the front lines of brain research.Are we born to be shy? Why do we remember some events so clearly and others not at all? Are creativity and depression somehow linked? Do our dreams really have deeper meanings?Now in paperback, here is a wonderfully accessible introduction to the most important recent findings about how our health, behavior, feelings, and identities are influenced by what goes on inside...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

great book!!!

I am a graduate student studying neurobiology, and I always try to expand my knowledge of everything from molecule to behavior. This book has been a great starting point to me. All authors are well-known neuroscientists and I even found more articles of those authors and those topics covered in it and enjoyed reading them. It's easy to read and I hope to read more books like this quality book. Highly recommend!! One last thing is that "mind" concept is not easy to catch for me yet, I think I have something in my mind to be figured out;)

"Everything is organic"!

This fine collection of essays provides an overview of the state of research on the mind/brain. Avoiding deeply technical or metaphysical issues [although not ignoring either] these essays describe some of the structural elements of the brain, how those elements guide our behaviour and what implications may be derived from this understanding. Roberta Conlan has chosen her authors well. Each selection clearly conveys its topic with supportive information and useful graphics to aid our grasp of the subject. This book is a fine starting point for any study of how the brain works, both physically and cognitively. The underlying theme throughout the essays is the evolutionary process. How has adaptation led the human brain to today's conditions? In any study of the brain, it is the abnormalities that provide focus. These essayists accept that both genetics and environment work together to create the dispositions humans now possess. No single element can be isolated in understanding how the brain functions. Beginning with the physical, especially the neuron's structure and operation, they move on to demonstrate how changes in brain chemistry can lead to addictions, mood swings and even creativity. The authors don't shun the many ethical questions about brain research or therapies. However, they insist that a new framework for psychological studies is required, one based on evolutionary, hence, biological foundations. In essayist Eric Kandel's words, "Everything is organic."If any of the essays must be selected as the outstanding one, it is J.Allan Hobsan's study of sleep and dreaming. He describes the neurochemistry of dreaming before relating studies of both human and animal dream indicators. Hobsan postulates five distinct sleep periods, REM [Rapid Eye Movement] sleep with Recognizing that relating dream content is fraught with imponderables, he nevertheless builds a case for a biological basis for dreams. With the rapid advances being made in human cognitive studies, many works are quickly outdated. This book provides a foundation for analysing and assessing updating publications. It's a worthwhile investment and will retain a useful place on anyone's shelves for some time to come. Read it to find out how it will help understand yourself and those around you. You won't be disappointed.

An informative read to unravel our personality and mind

This is a concise set of eight papers; which present to us with a mental and biological bases for our mannerisms. Although we generally manage to carry out without worrying too much about such philosophical conundrums, most of us at some point in our lives have been drawn with a desire for the need to understand our identity its formation and how our thinking process is set in place. Far from academic sciences, these questions and the answers we seek not only bear on the quality of our relationships with friends, family and associate but also has implications to our interactions with society. Our perception and analysis of events lie within this structure we call mind. To what extent is a bad temper or a joyous moment, a function of will and to what extent are they complex interactions between our genes and our environment. Ever wonder how some people react to situations with fear and hesitations while others react to the same situation without hesitation and care.With advances in research over time, now it is known with certainty that a number of mental problems, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia are associated with structural abnormalities in the brain and can be cared for with proper medication. The interconnections of the 100 billion nerve cells define our personality. If these nerves in their respective regions get damaged, we can loose our ability to speak, make memories, and feel emotions and recognition. The balance or imbalance of these nerves disposes us to act or react differently from others with the life's ups and downs.I highly recommend everyone to take the time to read this; it is highly informative and does not need any knowledge of biology or chemistry; just a curious mind

I raise my glass to science

I was most impressed with this book. Firstly, there is the correct attitude to approach the subject, with humility, and open discussion. There are no bones to pick, no doctrines to sell. Just a gathering together to try and understand something enormously relevant and complicated-the brain. Secondly, it is at the forefront of academic research. Thirdly, it is eminently readable.The brain is an important subject to study. A proper understanding of its functioning and 'malfunctioning' can only help humanity. Brain scientists are gathering together from various sub-disciplines of the greater field of biology, including evolution and genetics, immunology, biochemistry, and cellular biology, to understand the brain. Those beetle watchers have upstarted the academic community again! Not surpising, since we happen to be animals, part of the biosphere. (Incidentally, this includes our brains).There are up to date discussions on such things as susceptibility, 'second hits' (environmental influence), addiction, learning, shyness, introvert/extravert behavioural dispositions, mood disorders, creativity, manic depression, and schizophrenia, with some interesting analyses of famous poets, writers and artists included. Stress, what it means, the relationship to the immune system, and advances in therapy are discussed. Emotions, fear, and reason is discussed in the light of recent ideas and discoveries. Finally dreams, what they are, and what they do and don't mean. There is a lot of good stuff here. Most importantly was the bringing together of ideas and research from various disciplines-we might like to compartmentalise our various learning streams in society-but that isn't necasarily how the brain operates. The links between stress, the immune system and the brain is a good example. There are real discoveries here, and real solutions. Facilitated by cross-fertilisation of ideas, and co-operation amongst disciplines. It is great stuff. I look forward to what may be the coming 'century of the brain'. This book, in both its attitudes, and its discoveries, I found inspirational.

Mind: the Final Frontier

It was with a certain amount of reluctance I approached States of Mind. For starters, it's about the brain and the mind, two topics which I often find incredibly good at inducing drowsiness. Second, and more seriously, it's a very collaborative affair. The front cover lists no less than eight authors, all experts in various aspects of neurobiology. But that turned out to be the book's saving grace. Each article was originally a public lecture, designed for a non-specialist audience. And that's what makes the book so readable. First, the articles tend to have a very fluid, readable style, unlike so much academic prose. Because they were originally intended as lectures, they aren't as dense ... it's assumed the reader is a casual listener, rather than an expert, carefully reading and re-reading each sentence. And that makes this book a real treat. It's extremely enjoyable to read about the latest in brain research, explained by real experts in their fields, and in such a readable form. The experts range from a Harvard professor (Jerome Kagan, director of the Mind-Brain-Behavior Initiative) to a best-selling author (Kay Redfield Jamison, who gives a fascinating look at manic depressives among the gifted). Despite covering a wide variety of topics, each article is eminently readable and flows nicely into the next. Which has to be a credit to the editor, Roberta Conlan. Obviously, this isn't a book for everyone. It does assume a certain background knowledge of the brain and how it works. But if you're interested in finding out what the state of our knowledge of the brain is, this is an excellent place to start. Our picture of the mind changes so radically with each passing year that you have to read something very up-to-date if you want to avoid "learning" something that's no longer thought to be true. If there's any real surprise here, it's the current state of the endless "nature vs. nurture" debate. For much of this century, we seem to have been in "nurture mode", endlessly arguing the primacy of environment over genetics. But the experts in this book certainly lean the other way. Not that anyone is arguing that environment isn't relevant, but there does seem to be a strong tendency to assume that genetics are more important. So in summary it's readable, up to date and full of great information. A bit specialized, but if you're curious about how that lump of matter between your ears works, you won't do much better than this. For more science book reviews, check out my web page, at
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