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Creating Mind: How the Brain Works Paperback – December 13, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0393974461 ISBN-10: 0393974464

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Product Details

  • Series: How the Brain Works
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (December 13, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393974464
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393974461
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

What's going on inside your head? This is one of the fundamental questions in science, and one of the toughest to answer. Neurobiologist John E. Dowling starts us down the garden path with Creating Mind, a lucid introduction to the study of the brain. A Harvard researcher and instructor, Dowling puts his experience to good use in describing the mechanisms underlying memory, vision, language, and many other more-or-less well-understood phenomena. We learn that the cells and chemicals that make up our brains have been studied extensively, yet we are still mystified by the simplest fact of all: we are conscious. "I think, therefore I am" doesn't do justice to the richness of our experience, and Creating Mind tries to go further by exploring how the convergence of language, learning, and sensation might produce awareness. The many illustrations are clear and work well with the text to explain points best understood visually. (After seeing the studies of the humble squid, you'll never look at calamari the same way again!) Dowling has written an excellent overview that will inspire laypeople and budding neuroscientists alike. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this compact volume, Dowling, a Harvard biologist specializing in vision, explains how the human brain is structured, how it processes and stores information and how it occasionally malfunctions, while discussing its evolutionary roots. Topics as diverse as developmental biology, mental illness, the aging process, the biochemical basis of emotions, spinal cord injuries and the nature of optical illusions are touched upon, as are a range of current and projected treatments for disorders of the nervous system. Although Dowling's didactic style of posing questions to be answered wears a bit thin, a good deal of information is presented in a form largely accessible to the lay reader. While perhaps not surprising given his specialty, Dowling spends a disproportionate amount of time on the intricacies of the visual system while largely ignoring the other senses. Also omitted is any discussion of recent work examining structural differences in the brain between the sexes as well as correlational research suggesting possible links between brain configuration and homosexuality. Nonetheless, Dowling provides a competent introduction to the quickly developing field of neuroscience. Photos and line drawings throughout.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is simply the best introduction to neuroscience I have read that is written for non-science students. The book is short, but it covers virtually all aspects of neuroscience, from events taking place in individual synapses to how various regions of the brain contribute to memory, emotion and consciousness. Being a neuroscientist myself, I am fully aware of the complexity of this field. Yet, Professor Dowling is able to explain complex concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. For instance, many students may still have trouble understanding how a neuron's resting potential is formed, or how an action potential is generated, even after taking a whole course in neurophysiology. Yet, all of this is explained lucidly, concisely and accurately in one short chapter in this book, which in my opinion is a tour de force. The second half, which surveys the functions of different brains regions, is especially fascinating. My wish is that Dowling will soon write a new edition of another masterpiece of his, "The Retina-An Approachable Part of the Brain", which is starting to get outdated (it was published in 1987).
On the other hand, if you are a science student, the best introductory text is probably "The Neuron: Cell and Molecular Biology" by Levitan and Kaczmarek. Dowling's "Neurons and Networks" is also good, but I find it to be somewhat wordy.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I cannot empasize enough how useful John E. Dowling's Creating Mind is for a comprehensive understanding of the nervous system and how it works. I am a high school freshman and did not have access to any neuroscience courses, but was extremely interested in the field. After reading highly technical writing like the AP Biology textbook and unfocused popular science books like Steven Pinker's How the Mind Works, I did not have comprehensive understanding of the brain. John E. Dowling's Creating Mind was a godsend.
The book is concise and extremely easy to read, and most importantly is organized in a way that makes sense. Right off the bat, Dowling explains the book's structure. With the first five chapters providing essential background knowledge that other books seem to omit, and the following five chapters describing the human brain. At the beginning of each chapter there are short excerpts from memoirs or case studies that reveal the effects of what Dowling consequently discusses. He describes the molecular processes that take place within minute neurons, but at the same time brings it all together with a lucid overview of how the brain works. Dowling also acknowledges the limitations of our understanding, and offers a glimpse of the future of neuroscience.
Creating Mind is about 190 pages of writing and includes a glossary and an extremely useful Further Reading list. The book is fairly short (I read it in two days), but when you finish reading it, you feel like you know all that a Ph.D knows but without the scientific jargon. If I ever meet Dr. Dowling I will thank him for this incredible piece of work. I sincerely loved this book, as it gave me my first clear understanding of the brain, and although it may not be technical enough for the medical student, Creating Mind is the best introduction to neuroscience for the curious lay reader. I highly recommend it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A P Harvey on January 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is fantastic. All you need is basic school science to understand this clear and facinating explanation of how our grey matter functions. If the idea of understanding the human brain fascinates you but you think you'd never begin to understand.....read this book. It's not only easily understood, it's an interesting read as well. Highly recommended!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By K. Scott Proctor VINE VOICE on January 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book provides an excellent overview of neuroscience and how, in general, a mammalian neural system functions. The author does an excellent job of contextualizing his overview of neuroscience by providing real-world anecdotes and stories at the beginning of each chapter.
For those interested in an overview of the components and systems involved in neuroscience, this book serves as an excellent reference. The author provides clear levels of distinction and abstraction for all of the systems and elements of mamallian neural systems.
I highly recommend this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 9, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Dowling has written a superb, easy to read introduction to brain structure and function. The book is well set out and has lots of figures which really complement the text and help to clarify the concepts that are being explained. Dowling uses lots of examples throughout the book and even though I got the idea that this book was an up to date report on the latest research and findings of neuroscience, the book reads more like a novel than a scientific text.
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