The Human Genome Project has revealed that we possess a surprisingly small number of genes, especially in light of our fairly complex bodies. In The Birth of the Mind, NYU psychology professor Gary Marcus brings together current research on how our genetic code assembles that most mysterious physiological structure, the brain. Readers fascinated by the works of Steven Pinker and other mind theorists will be fascinated by Marcus' descriptions of strange--and sometimes disturbing--sensory experiments carried out on chimps, ferrets, and kittens that show how the brain organizes itself in the presence or absence of external stimuli. Further, Marcus writes that there's nothing particularly special about how the brain is built and maintained.
What's amazing is how little of the overall scheme for embryonic development is special to the brain. Although thousands of genes are involved in brain development, a large number of them are shared with (or have close counterparts in) genes that guide the development of the rest of the body.
With plenty of evidence supporting the notion of multi-function "housekeeping genes," Marcus concludes that our hopes for finding single genes responsible for various brain disorders are likely unfounded. The Birth of the Mind offers an engaging and often witty look at how our genetic code can be simple enough to make basic proteins and complicated enough to help us learn languages. --Therese Littleton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
NYU psychologist Marcus strikes a rare and delicate balance of scientific detail and layperson accessibility in this overview of an exploding field of inquiry. He traces a compelling story through the classic genetics and brain experiments of the past century up to present-day research, intriguingly illustrating how the human genome is intertwined with brain development, showing how the mechanisms that build brains are extensions of the mechanisms that build the body. Marcus dispels popular misconceptions of genes, showing, for instance, that most behaviors and disorders are much more complicated than headlines such as "gene for obesity discovered" would have us believe. Heavy explanations of complex results and abstract concepts are leavened by Marcus' upbeat, friendly writing style, which makes even the most arcane genetics principles a joy to read. Experiments with vision and language are particularly well-represented, with vivid descriptions adding color to the technical prose. If there is a fault here, it is that the book jumps around a bit too much, attempting to collect several decades of research and many threads of thought into a single slim volume. A lengthy glossary and bibliography, along with meticulous footnoting throughout, are helpful for those wishing to educate themselves further on the subject, but Marcus gives most readers more than enough to think about here.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
If my library were to catch fire, this would be one of the first books I would try and save. It's an absolute treasure of science writing, incredibly accessible yet... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Umer Vakil
The Birth of the Mind,
Keeping in mind, that when written in 2003, "The Birth of the Mind" was cutting-edge neuroscience and genetics. Read more
This book sounds like it would be a dry read but it is anything but that. You dont have to be a science geek, a biologist, geneticist or even a geek to enjoy this. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Jason
Gary Marcus makes his points concisely and clearly without the reader having to suffer the agonies of an author's sometimes "stilted" vocabulary. Read morePublished 19 months ago by gerluck
This is the first book on the topic of evolution and human behavior that I have not had to cringe once or twice, at least, while reading in perhaps the last six years. Read morePublished on August 10, 2009 by Carmi Turchick
This book is a very brief introduction into both genetics and neuroscience. The intention of this book is to make clear that nature (genes) is the basic foundation for the... Read morePublished on May 28, 2009 by A. Panda
As a social scientist, I approached this book with some trepidation, especially when I noticed an 18 page glossary! Read morePublished on December 29, 2006 by Howard Aldrich
While you may have read books that similarly describe genes and brain development, you will not find one that presents a better, more comprehensive or concise explanation. Read morePublished on September 6, 2006 by Dave. B.
Buy this book if you have avid interest in the role of DNA in the formation of the brain/mind. From a layman's perspective, I should add that, there are very few books on this... Read morePublished on April 2, 2006 by Suvro Ghosh