I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Do take some time to look at the included PDF before you start listening otherwise you will be frustrated at various points. The book does repeat some things from other of Ramachandran???s books, but it was all stuff that was interesting enough to bear repeating. The book also becomes speculative at points, but the author notes where experimental results end and speculation begins and he also points out that speculation is an important part of the scientific method. The speculation becomes a little wild near the end of the book when the author attempts to frame art in term of neuroscience, but it was interesting to think about nevertheless. The book mostly describes unusual neurological conditions, links them to specific brain regions, and describes experiments to test related theories. This is quite good fun if you are in to that sort of thing ??? if you are not, it might seem dry.
This book comes with a PDF, but it is not too critical to the book. There are little puzzles for each chapter that involves piecing together pictures, letters, and sounds to form a hidden word or phrase, which are mentioned at the start of each chapter, and are mildly interesting but not at all necessary for understanding the material. There are also pictures of where the various parts of the brain are, but again, interesting but not critical.
The book is written for the layman and not overly technical. It covers a bunch on interesting neurological case studies, most of which have been covered in other books. However, Kean does an excellent job of research, and exposition, getting to the essence of the case studies without too much technical detail. I tend to like a lot of technical detail, but I enjoyed this book quite a bit anyway. The stories are interesting, and a number of details that were misreported elsewhere are corrected and clarified here.
The author has a quite graphic style (some might say too graphic). The book is often discussing in vivid detail oozing, infected, dissected, projected, extracted, rotting brain tissue. This did not bother me, but it may be more than some listeners would expect.
If you don’t mind a little grossness, I think most listeners will enjoy this book and at least get something to think about.
The narration is excellent, very upbeat and high energy, without being sappy.
There are other books on this subject, that I think I learned more from, but none that I enjoyed more, plus this made several subtle, yet important, points not presented elsewhere and corrected commonly misreported stories that I thought I knew.
Most of this book (the actual science) was very interesting, with a lot of valid and important ideas about neuroplasticity.
If you have OCD or know someone who has read the same author’s Brain Lock (which has much of the practical information without the metaphysics). This book is good. the narration excellent and there is a short PDF is available with diagrams of the parts and uses of the brain and nerve cells if you are not already familiar with these.
The book is largely conversational and easy to listen to, but from time to time drops into metaphysical discussions. The last third the book takes off to a somewhat unscientific path attempting to demonstrate that the soul must exists and connects to the body via quantum effects. Having such ideas is not inherently unscientific, but, to be science a clear hypothesis should be stated along with an experiment differentiating the cases. Here the book is quite weak. The logic seems to be 1) We don’t understand consciousness 2) We don’t understand quantum effects 3) Quantum theory has elements of consciousness and randomness 4) The author’s religion (Buddhism) supports the idea of a non-brain mind learning to control the brain. Thus) mindfulness must control the brain via quantum effects through randomness. Now I believe consciousness is a product of quantum effects (as is everything else) but that does not imply the mind is separate from the brain. The brain seems quite capable of changing itself and capable of all the practical aspects of OCD treatments without resorting to magic.