Top positive review
31 people found this helpful
Thorough and expertly researched
on February 8, 2011
As a layperson, I found the reading slightly difficult. Not because of the author's writing style, which is excellent given the material, but because it's not your typical pop-science, easy read. You can't sneak in a few chapters in the waiting room at the doctor's office. I like how she painstakingly defines each concept, and even gives non-academic folks (like me) a fairly thorough description of the types of studies that have been used in developing brain organization theory (and tells you that if you've already mastered those concepts, to go ahead and skip certain sections). She even wrestles with how to define certain terms and concepts because she doesn't want to introduce bias (unlike many of the studies she cites). She delicately balances the line so as to not talk down to the reader, but writes intelligently enough so that, I believe, even other brain researchers won't feel insulted. Although I loved Cordelia Fine's Delusions of Gender, Jordan-Young avoids the sarcasm and snarkiness that is so prevalent in Fine's work. As a result, BrainStorm is a serious survey of dozens of brain studies, whose results are really not as clear-cut as the researchers would have us believe. Muddling through the incessant citations can slow you down, as she often cites multiple studies at once; but this cannot be avoided, and indeed, is necessary to make her points.
Perhaps most striking is the fact that virtually none of the studies uses the same definition (or any definition at all) for words like "feminine" and "masculine." When pressed, researchers and scientists insist that such concepts are "common sense" and require no explicit definitions. Because what is considered feminine and masculine changes over time and varies between cultures, these definitions are not constant, but the research (which spans several decades) treats them as though they are fixed and unchanging concepts that don't need to be spelled out. She points to several studies that cite previous research to support their hypotheses, when in reality, those studies actually CONTRADICT each other because of varying definitions of key terms.
All in all, a very thorough and extremely well-researched read. I often found myself marveling at the amount of data she has obviously pored through to carefully and thoughtfully present to the reader. Highly recommended for the layperson interested in brain research.