Wednesday, February 01, 2006

first week reading

"Mind Wide Open", by Steven Johnson

About the author:
Steven Johnson is the best-selling author of four books on the intersection of science, technology and personal experience. His writings have influenced everything from the way political campaigns use the Internet, to cutting-edge ideas in urban planning, to the battle against 21st-century terrorism.
Other books he’s been writing are:
Everything Bad Is Good For You: how today’s popular culture is actually making us smarter
Emergence: the connected lives of ants, brains, cities and software
Interface Culture: how new technology transforms the way we create and communicate

What the book is about:
The author, Steven Johnson, reveals in the book Mind Wide Open the results of the opportunity to watch the inner workings of his own brain, combined with edgy brain science.
Books point out that recent laboratory revelations about the brain, is crucial for understanding ourselves and our psyches in new, post-Freudian ways.
Mind Wide Open both satisfies curiosity and provokes more questions, leaving readers wondering about their own gray matter.

Subject Background Area:
The study of how the brain and nervous system work. Neuroscience integrates more traditional scientific approaches such as anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry, along with newer fields such as molecular biology and computer science, to understand how the nervous system functions.

The author's aims:
-make science more accessible
-using modern neuroscience and high-tech equipment to better understand your everyday life
-make a connection between the brain functions and the way you are.

Stucture of the book and author's perspective:
“My approach is different: we’ll start instead with a brain in action - feeling fear, laughing at a joke, coming up with a good idea - and tease out the underlying mechanism as we go”
The author starts the chapter telling about an accident he’s been experiencing, so that everyone can relate to his feelings. Then he takes us into the world of high-tech equipment, giving us a picture of how the brain reacts under the feelings caused by the accident.

Reviews on the book:
"This is his fascinating, often bizarre odyssey into the mind, one which takes him around the world…, …experimenting with the latest cutting-edge technology.”
“…The result is an astonishing glimpse into the strange world within our heads, and what makes us who we are.”

"Readers shy about slapping electrodes on their own temples can get a vicarious scientific thrill as Johnson tries out empathy tests, neurofeedback, and fMRI scans."

"It's the rare popular science book that not only gives the reader a gee-whiz glimpse at an emerging field, but also offers a guide for incorporating its new insights into one's own worldview."


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