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Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 27, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
Part of this is the the author's style. Johnson is funny, personal, and earnest. He alternates between sharing his own musings and vulnerablities and recounting what he has carefully learned and experienced. When you read this book, you may feel the astonishing sensations that I did; your mind thinking about your mind within the context of your own experience and Johnson's perspectives. This was a visceral experience for me.
As much as Mind Wide Open will stimulate you, it is also a book that begs to be read more than once. Rarely do I read a book that I want to completely re-read again; I suspect that many others will feel the same.
I must admit to having scant, if any, interest in 'brain science' before reading this book. That has changed. What lies in our head not only influences our thinking; it catalogues our evolution and our pursuit of life's meaning. Mind Wide Open is a book that allows the reader to understand him/herself in ways that we have never explored before.
This is a superb book. I highly enjoyed it, I look forward to enjoying it again, and I give it my highest recommendation.
There are so many incredible things to learn about neuroscience that are accessible to non-scientists, yet he focused most of the book on electroencephalograms (EEG), which is ancient technology and alone yields little information about the brain. He drew broad conclusions from specific data and consistently overinterpreted results. This is not surprising considering he has no degree. I should have noticed this before I bought the book. He's like the Ken Burns of neuroscience. You can't study neuroscience part-time for a year or two and expect to write a deep book on it. It's like trying to fly a space shuttle after a summer internship at NASA.
So in conclusion, if you know nothing about neuroscience, you'll probably get something out of this book. Don't waste your time on it though, because if you want to have your mind blown, read "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat".
Mind Wide Open is a great book if you're new to the field of psychology or simply aren't too familiar with the actual chemical workings of the brain. The detail in the main text isn't all that deep but the end notes make up for much of the "overlooked" information. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars because while it was informative and quite revealing I think that Johnson slightly oversimplified the issues at hand. If you come into this book with anything much above a beginners understanding of brain biochemistry you won't walk away with any new ideas.
I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a beginners guide to theories of how the brain functions.
I would recommend this book as an extremely breezy read for those curious about what's going on in brain science. Johnson describes how our brains are always on endogenous drugs, be they the love potion oxytocin, the stressor cortisol, the confidence-building serotonin, etc. He also recounts some pretty interesting experiments where his mind is connected to electrodes and fMRI machines and his mental processes monitored. I have to admit, though, I wanted something a little meatier and substantive about the human mind, and wasn't quite sure if the book was limited by the state of brain science or Johnson's attempt to simplify for the everyman. Most people are aware that the mind is a neurochemical network, so there isn't anything particularly revelatory here.
Johnson rarely gets abstract. He discusses the "qualia" of consciousness only to sidestep it. (I found myself wondering why the metaphysical qualia of consciousness is even necessary; the illusion of a unified "I" must have some evolutionary advantages over a machine-like processor.) At the end he tackles Freud, but I found his attempts somewhat simplistic against the godfather of psychoanalysis.
In sum, while an interesting read, the book stretches out a little bit of information a long way. A lot of this information could have been in one magazine article. And I did fear that Johnson was trying to dumb it down a bit; I wouldn't mind more intensive scrutiny of the actual neurochemical components of the mind.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
okay read, not as good as malcolm gladwell, or richard restak.Published 4 months ago by L. Van Warren
ever catch yourself not acting like yourself or someone you thought you knew really well doing something you couldn't imagine ever wonder why you can sometimes intuit whats around... Read morePublished 8 months ago by mark lyon
This has actually provided more questions and introduced me to areas I hadn't considered, more paths to investigate. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Teresa Obenauf
Steven Johnson makes a quick and easy read. My understanding of the brain is clearer.Published 14 months ago by Miild Mannered Mick
A deeper read, generally discussing the conflict between the processing, frontal portion of the brain and the emotional, slower working, limbic portion. Read morePublished 16 months ago by LFD
Very intriguing! An excellent book that brings neuroscience to an everyday level of understanding!Published 19 months ago by Jared D. Rittmanic
A journey inside your brain. Knowing which chemicals are responsible for which actions and reactions. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Milad
What Steven Johnson does, in a world of specialist idiots, is write like a liberal arts master about the experience of the mind's activity. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Manthano