- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (January 26, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062228854
- ISBN-13: 978-0062228857
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 49 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #205,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience Reprint Edition
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“The idea that one skull can house two minds, each with a measure of autonomy, has also given way to the idea that we all have “multiple minds” operating as a “confederation,” according to Gazzaniga. How this system creates a seemingly unified mind . . . remains a compelling question.” (New York Times Book Review)
“Tales will be cataloged as scientific autobiography. . . . But it is as much a book about gratitude—for the chance to study a subject as endlessly fascinating as the brain, for the author’s brilliant colleagues and . . . for the patients who taught him . . . so much.” (Wall Street Journal)
“[A] compelling autobiography . . . Gazzaniga was at the heart of a pivotal research programme and struck up friendships with neuroscience and psychology luminaries. . . . his natural appetite to tell juicy-behind-the-scenes stories is more than welcome.” (Nature)
“One of the fathers of cognitive neuroscience narrates his life’s work in this warm memoir illuminating the birth of the revolutionary split-brain theory . . . Gazzaniga’s tales of decades-long friendships show that science can be a surprisingly social co-creative effort that thrives outside the lab.” (Entertainment Weekly)
“In this fascinating memoir . . . [Gazzaniga’s] warmth and good humor virtually jump off the page. . . . Gazzaniga’s memoir should delight fans of the television series The Big Bang Theory, but it will also have tremendous appeal for non-nerds, too.” (Booklist, Starred Review)
“A fascinating affirmation of our essential humanity.” (Kirkus Reviews)
” . . . A winding tale of a life lived in science and the joys of bringing science to the public. . . . Gazzaniga’s book is of great interest to . . . anyone intrigued by the story of one of the greatest discoveries in cognition.” (Publishers Weekly)
“It is fascinating to read about the stories going on behind the split-brain experiments that don’t make it into the scientific literature. . . . Good for readers who enjoy scientific biographies and anyone interested in neuroscience.” (Library Journal)
“The story of how science works interwoven with the life of a brilliant scientist who not only created an entire new field of inquiry but just happened to live in the Animal House at Dartmouth. A marvelous, exciting adventure, elegantly written.” (Daniel J. Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession and The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload)
“The personal story of a genius famous for one of the rare major discoveries ever made out in the still vast, still baffling terra incognita of the human brain, namely, the split-brain phenomenon.” (Tom Wolfe, author of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Testand The Right Stuff)
“Tales From Both Sides of the Brain is a fun, accessible story of not just how both halves of our minds function but also how a group of brilliant and sweetly quirky neuroscientists have struggled to find answers.” (Conan O'Brien, host of Conan)
“Mike Gazzaniga’s personal, charming story of how he uncovered the mysteries of the way our left and right brains collaborate is fascinating. This book makes you think twice about thinking. Two heads really are better than one--and most of us have both in the same skull.” (Alan Alda)
“Gazzaniga ... reveals the role of ego, politics, jealousy, envy, lust, and all the other deadly sins in the advance of human knowledge. This is a must-read for those who care about science, history, the human brain, and, speaking only metaphorically, the human heart.” (Eric Kaplan, coproducer and writer of The Big Bang Theory)
“Gazzaniga ... gives us insight into the importance of his role as an inspired educator who single-handedly established the field of cognitive neuroscience.... The thrill of his journey reveal a life that has been enriched by science and enhanced by family, friends, fun, and humor.” (Emilio Bizzi, Ph.D, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
“Gazzaniga almost single-handedly initiated and persistently fostered … the creation of cognitive neuroscience. This is a book full of prescient insights, sage advice, and entertaining anecdotes about how that was achieved. It is an essential read for scientists young and old, policy makers, and an informed public.” (Marcus E. Raichle, professor at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis)
“A marvelous and important book by a marvelous and important man.” (Christopher Buckley)
“The ‘Tales…‘provide a rare, firsthand neuroscientific account of an incredible surgical treatment, with several rich clinical insights into brain operations as envisioned by a great story teller. These richly detailed stories will teach, inform, and stimulate the reader’s mind.” (Floyd E. Bloom MD, Professor Emeritus, The Scripps Research Institute)
“A few great autobiographies serve to demonstrate the humans behind the progress in psychology and cognitive science over the last fifty years. With this book Michael Gazzaniga joins B.F. Skinner and Herbert Simon in this elite, must-read category.” (Michael Posner, Professor Emeritus, University of Oregon)
“Gazzaniga’s fascinating memoir is best described as a love story. He draws us in with his love of science [and] with his love of life. . . . he not only opened doors for generations of scientists. . . [he] showed them how to have great time doing it.” (Elizabeth Phelps, Professor at New York University)
“Michael Gazzaniga has left an indelible stamp on our understanding of the human brain. . . . This wonderfully readable book paints a different picture - of the collegiality and friendship that energized the life of one of the most influential of contemporary psychologists.”” (Sir Colin Blakemore, School of Advanced Study, University of London)
From the Back Cover
With a Foreword by Steven Pinker
In Tales from Both Sides of the Brain, Michael S. Gazzaniga tells the story of his passionate, entrepreneurial life in science and his decades-long journey to understand how the separate spheres of our brains communicate and miscommunicate their separate agendas. From his time as an ambitious undergraduate at Dartmouth, as a member of its now famed “Animal House” fraternity, and his life as a diligent graduate student in California to the first experiments he conducted in his own lab; from meeting his first split-brain patients and his collaboration with esteemed intellectuals across disciplines, Gazzaniga recounts the trajectory of his discoveries. In his engaging and accessible style, he paints a vivid portrait not only of his discovery of split-brain theory, but also of his comrades-in-arms—the many patients, friends, and family members who have accompanied him on this wild ride of intellectual discovery.
“The idea that one skull can house two minds, each with a measure of autonomy, has also given way to the idea that we all have ‘multiple minds’ operating as a ‘confederation,’ according to Gazzaniga. How this system creates a seemingly unified mind . . . remains a compelling question.” —New York Times Book Review
“Tales will be cataloged as scientific autobiography. . . . But it is as much a book about gratitude—for the chance to study a subject as endlessly fascinating as the brain, for the author’s brilliant colleagues and . . . for the patients who taught him . . . so much.” —Wall Street Journal
“The personal story of a genius famous for one of the rare major discoveries ever made out in the still vast, still baffling terra incognita of the human brain, namely, the split-brain phenomenon.” —Tom Wolfe, author of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Right Stuff
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Top customer reviews
Michael Gazzaniga has had a distinguished career in neuroscience both working with the pioneers of the subject as well as being a one himself. He started out in graduate school in Caltech where he first did work on split brain subjects. Split brain subjects had the left and right hemispheres severed from one another due to surgery in patients with extreme epilepsy. Our anatomy is such that each hemisphere of the brain (left,right) controls the opposite eye, ear and limbs though there are remnants of control for things like limbs. As a result a split brain patient can be forced to respond to stimuli while using only one side of the brain by carefully constructed experiments. Tales from the brain explores the evolution of the author's career and the experiments and results that he did as a graduate student as well as while he was mentoring his countless graduate students. The author discusses how the brain adapts to a split brain via queuing mechanisms and how there are aspects of brain plasticity as well. He discusses later in the book the results of experiments with partially severed brain hemispheres. The results of all the experiments are fascinating and the unfamiliar reader will consider their concept of self in a new light. We learn that we are not really one person and our narrative of our own life can even be fabricated by our more literary left half. In addition to the scientific results are the author's personal stories about his first homes, his first and second families and his academic life in California and on the East Coast. This is all good context and makes the book very personal but for me given the relative unfamiliarity with his career work, was less interesting
Tales from Both Sides of the Brain gets into some remarkable results from brain science that have been worked on over the last 50 years. Our theory of mind has been modified due to results from neuroscience as well as biology and technology such that we have to look at ourselves in a new and eerie light. Michael Gazzaniga has been at the forefront of this exploration and has the perfect vantage point to retell the story. If one is interested in brain science then this is a gratifying read. This is a very personal book and as such there are parts which will undoubtedly be less interesting to particular readers, such as myself, but all in all lots of interesting material alongside details of a remarkable career.
Gazzaniga’s autobiographical account was entertaining as well as intellectually stimulating. And who could resist the gossipy references to the likes of Bill Buckley and Steve Allen. I guess I was slightly put off by his habitual high praise for everyone and everything he ever saw; it reminded me of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, where all the men are good looking and all the children are above average. That said, his genuinely warm and enthusiastic demeanor must have been a valuable asset as he facilitated the talents of his many high-powered colleagues and research assistants. I was relieved that he stepped back from delving into his personal issues with Roger Sperry, and instead, included the wonderful tribute he gave to Sperry at the time of his Nobel Prize.
The light-hearted travelogue aspect of this story is more than compensated for by Dr. Gazzaniga’s serious and often profound discussion of the important research he devoted his life to. This should be required reading for all who are interested in the modern history of psychology.
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