Victim of an enigmatic neurological disease, Susannah Cahalan was suddenly stricken with hallucinations and bouts of madness. Thanks to the diagnosis of a quick-witted doctor, she emerged from the other side of her surreal ordeal able to share everything she learned about the nature of the mind (especially her own) in this illuminating memoir.
Combining the sordid allure of a memoir of drug addiction with a popular-science sense of wonder at the miraculous workings of the human brain, Marc Lewis uses himself as a representative research specimen. After many years spent using, Lewis got clean and became a developmental neuroscientist with a natural affinity for investigating the pathways of addiction. His book casts light on the areas of research that hold the best chance of explaining humanity's immemorial desire to get high.
"It's not a flaw, it's a feature." The infamous software company excuse for annoying glitches might have been coined by God Himself after designing our brains. Actually, neuroscientist Dean Buonomano invokes Darwin, not the Deity, when explaining all the defects in our wetware, as he guides us through a primer on why our brains are often unable to cope with the artificial conditions that daily deceive us.
What a mystery is the human mind! Nudge a few neurons, and one person can transform radically. Such is the case with Jon Sarkin, mundane chiropractor turned obsessive artist by stroke and surgery. Pulitzer nominee Amy Ellis Nutt tells his tragic but miraculous story with insight and grace.
Neuroscientist David Eagleman, whose Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives was one of the most beguiling books of the past two years, returns to explain that our brains are icebergs, nine-tenths unseen below the conscious waterline. With characteristic insight and eloquence, he probes the hidden portions of our minds, revealing what science has learned about such mysterious activities as reacting unwittingly to danger stimuli and picking up audible cues you would swear you didn't actually hear.
You might file this one under "Need to Know": as the subtitle makes perfectly clear, neuroscientist David J. Linden's learned and sprightly book explores "how our brains make fatty foods, orgasm, exercise, marijuana, generosity, vodka, learning, and gambling feel so good."
Utilizing case studies of the most extreme types of neuro-disasters to illustrate the evloution, construction, and functioning of the average human brain, V. S. Ramachandran, dubbed the "Marco Polo of neuroscience," explores how this miraculous organ makes us human.
May 24: Joseph Brodsky was born on this day in 1940 in Leningrad. Brodsky's constitutional skepticism was not compatible with the official Soviet alternatives, and by age twenty-five he was in prison, wrapped in cold, wet sheets as…