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Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life Hardcover – Jan 27 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (Jan. 27 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743241657
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743241656
  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 15.6 x 22.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #670,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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First Sentence
I'm gazing into a pair of eyes, scanning the arch of the brow, the hooded lids, trying to gauge whether they're signaling defiance or panic. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on April 30 2012
Format: Paperback
I read this book before Steven Johnson's later works, The Ghost Map (2006) and Where Good Ideas Come From (2011) and then re-read recently, before composing this commentary. Because Johnson is a very serious thinker with an almost insatiable curiosity, he devotes uncommon time and thought to what he writes and draws heavily on a wealth of secondary sources that he duly acknowledges. For this book, there are generously annotated notes (Pages 217-255) and an extensive bibliography (Pages 257-262). Other reviews have offered insightful reasons for holding this book in high regard. I agree with those reasons and see no need to recycle them now.

Here in Dallas, there is a Farmer's Market near the downtown area where several merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples of their wares. In that same spirit, I offer a selection of brief passages representative of the high quality of Johnson's skills.

'Unlike so many technoscie3ntific advances, the brain sciences and their imaging technologies are, almost by definition, a kind of mirror. They capture what our brains are doing and reflect that information back to us. You gaze into the glass, and the reflection says to you, 'Here is your brain.' This book is the story of my journey into that mirror.' (Page 17)

'The attention system works as a kind of assembly line: higher-level functions are built on top of lower-level functions. So if you have problems encoding, you'll almost certainly have problems with supervisory attention. When people notice attention impairments, they're usually detecting problems with the focus/execute or supervisory levels, but the original source of the problem may well be farther down the chain, or it might be localized to a particular sensory channel.
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By Genevieve Matte on Dec 16 2009
Format: Paperback
Easy to understand for beginners in neuro psychology....very interesting for advanced people too ! Witty, well written and very accurate.
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Format: Paperback
A highly entertaining, thought provoking, and pleasant read. It's sort of a blend of science and popular philosophy, the musings of a creative and bright guy. Mr. Johnson addresses a subject that is of great interest to me, namely neurotransmitter systems such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. He also touches upon Peter Kramer's "Listening to Prozac" and the neurotransmitter personality model of C. Robert Cloninger. Mr. Johnson points out that low serotonin may be the cause of the psychological condition of rejection sensitivity, although this may actually be caused by a high level of norepinephrine as well. My only significant criticism is that Mr. Johnson may be speculating a bit much, and making somewhat of sweeping generalizations to suit his own ideas. Nonetheless, this book is well worth reading. Author of Adjust Your Brain: A Practical Theory for Maximizing Mental Health.
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Format: Hardcover
I'd recommend this highly to anyone who wants a lucidly written book on what we know about the brain. Actually I'd go further than that. The author spells out how neural chemistry shapes our emotions and our behaviour. This book is a nuts-and-bolts owner's manual to everyone who has a brain. Philosophers have always urged us to "know ourselves". Science is now at the point where the beginnings of wisdom can start with an understanding of the amygdala and the role of serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and norepinephrine. The only reason I don't give this book five stars is because of the last chapter where the author attempts to "reconcile" neuroscience with Freud. This is like trying to reconcile modern chemistry with Aristotle, or astronomy with Ptolemy, not particularly interesting.
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Format: Hardcover
A delight and a disappointment. Steven Johnson opens the door (briefly) to many of the brain's multi-level functions and then closes it before the reader can fully grasp the significance and inter-relation of the areas and functions. True, the end-papers do help but I'm still left than more questions than an answers. Maybe it's really a "teaser" for the sequel.
Still, I would recommend it for anyone like myself who is interested in the how the brain functions but doesn't have a Phd in the neurosciences.
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Format: Hardcover
Maybe I shouldn't dock the book a star or two on account of the sheer drudgery and pointlessness of the final 35+ pages, but unfortunately, it was like having a tasty meal and then finding a cockroach in your dessert. I don't know whether the publisher insisted on the author tacking on the Conclusion section or if it was more organically contrived by the author himself, but it doesn't work. We have essentially up until page 183 some interesting anecdotes and introspections from the author related to developments in brain science. These I enjoyed quite a bit. Johnson took the tact, fittingly, of an investigative reporter in subjecting himself to neurofeedback measures and MRI scans. I found it very interesting to hear about procedures in great detail that have been heretofore only terms in passing to me. His writing style is fluid, and he manages to not get overly-techie in his descriptions. He dotes perhaps a little too much on his gift of writing, but while a tad annoying, that was certainly a forgivable sin.
It's when we get to that rather lengthy Conclusion section that Johnson hits the wall and seems suddenly out of his element and expertise. At least my expectation was that he would synthesize his analysis from the previous chapters into some kind of cogent summary or at least speculate based on his findings about the path forward for neuroscience. Instead, it becomes largely an odd hommage to Freudian ideas, purveying Freud as a greater visionary than he's been given credit in recent years. It was tedious and not particularly insightful. For one, the author clearly recognizes the infirmity of what he's saying.
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