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The Mind's Eye Paperback – October 4, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
This book starts out like that, with a story about a classical musician who slowly loses her ability to read, first words, then music, then an inability to recognize much of anything visually. At this point, I felt that the writing was pleasant and interesting, but a bit predictable. A second similar story follows. I still didn't realize that this book focused specifically on sight, vision, and the part that the brain, rather than the eye itself, plays in the ability to see. (I know, the title was a dead give-away, but I took it too metaphorically.)
But then the book veers off in a direction that I wasn't expecting. Dr. Sacks himself is diagnosed with cancer in his eye. He undergoes surgery and radiation, and his vision is changed in odd ways. Much of the book is based on his own detailed notes on his experiments with himself, his internal observations of what he experiences. There is a great deal of reflection on stereopsis, the ability to see in 3-D, which curiously, he had been a big fan of, belonging to a society in New York based on old 3-d imagery. Just like the people he so often writes about, now he himself turns out to be a patient whose particular gifts and interests are suddenly impinged upon by a peculiar ailment. (Are the gods mocking us?Read more ›
Consider this: The human eye can detect fine detail over an angle of about 2 degrees. That's not much; it's roughly the area of a dime held at arm's length. Your first instinct is probably to say nonsense; after all, you can easily perceive the entire scene before you, over an angle of at least 90 and as much as 180 degrees. You're right, at least in part. You perceive the wide expanse of the world before you, but what you perceive and what your eyes take in are two very different things. The world you perceive is not the raw input from your eyes, but rather something constructed by your brain, using input from your eyes as well as a lifetime's experience and memory of the world around you.
Here's another example. You've probably, at one time or another in your childhood, placed a finger in front of your face, and then viewed it through each eye in turn, noticing how it appears to jump back and forth and you switched eyes. Obviously, your eyes see slightly different pictures of the world. Yet when you look at the world, you don't see two different pictures. You see a single picture of the world, with a sense of depth and dimensionality not apparent when viewing with either eye alone. That third dimension isn't there in the pictures coming from your eyes- it has to be added by the brain.
Neurologist Oliver Sacks has made a second career for himself writing about neurological affectations, and how they affect the people who suffer them.Read more ›
In his latest book, The Mind's Eye, Oliver Sacks presents case studies of vision malfunctions. A concert pianist suddenly can't read music anymore. A novelist finds he can't read anymore - but he hasn't lost his ability to write in longhand. Other chapters cover face blindness and a lack of stereoscopic vision - a woman who sees in two dimensions rather than three.
This would have been a depressing book if it had just been about the many ways our brains can fail us. But Sacks also describes the incredible ways these people have compensated for their losses. The concert pianist finds that she can play by ear better than she ever thought she would be able to. She can memorize long pieces of music and improvise and compose. The novelist writes his drafts in longhand and has his editor read it to him so he can make revisions. In a non-vision related aside, Sacks tells of a woman who has been paralyzed following an accident, but finds she can still at least enjoy the small pleasure of doing the daily crossword puzzle by memorizing the grid and all the clues and then solving the puzzle mentally through the day. She could not have imagined being able to memorize to such an extent before the accident.
Is it possible to achieve feats such as super-memory without having been injured? Do we all possess amazing brains that we only put to the test when we're challenged by circumstances? Again we're left to marvel that, of all the fantastic things the brain can do, the one thing it hasn't been able to figure out yet, is itself.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The narrator, Richard Davidson, wrecks the audiobook form of this fine work. Davidson STRONGLY EMPHASIZES every fourth WORD, as if EVERYTHING is SO ... EXCITING. Read morePublished 2 months ago by PR
Dr. Sacks writes with great insight, and has helped me deal with similar situations. A real pioneer in so many ways.Published 4 months ago by Alan D. Singer
Dr. Oliver Sacks was a practicing neurologist and professor who wrote a number of popular books about people afflicted with neurological and/or brain damage. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Kit Taylor
I only bought this book because my wife wanted it the only reason i give it a 4 star instead of 5 star is because it was a bit bent. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
Mind's Eye is a journey into neuro- psychology that brings to life its key points by making case studies 3 dimensional. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Rich Long
Always enjoy Oliver Sacks diagnoses and views of his patients. Especially enjoyed the first half of the book, last half was very technical.Published 9 months ago by Nancy C. Dancu
We are taught to believe that the only way we can "see" is to use our eyes. But what happens if we are deprived of the power of sight, or fall victim to other ailments... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Dr. Laurence Raw